Monday, June 25, 2012

Summertime...and the Writing is Intense

    Although it's been in the 80's here for months (winter? spring? didn't happen here), summer officially began a couple of days ago. Right on Hotlanta schedule, the temperature went from 80 something to 90 something immediately.

     I begin my Young Writer's Workshops for the parks department today. No matter what week I begin (and I've been doing this for years), it will always be the hottest week of the summer at that point.  This is a good thing, for me at least.

    I turn into a slug in hot weather, and spending six hours a day with young, enthusiastic writers gets me up and inspired.  Inspiration is what I need in the summer, when my schedule is even crazier than usual.  Writing time is sandwiched between workshops and increased practice sessions and competitions for my daughter, the figure skater. Even though everything is air-conditioned, all that running around in hot, sticky, snail-paced Atlanta traffic sucks the energy out of you. Makes you cranky. Makes you want to go sit in the neighborhood pool with a margarita (if the neighborhood pool let you bring in alcohol, which it doesn't.)

  When I was a full-time teacher, my writing time was confined to the summer months. With a work day that started at 7am and frequently went on past midnight (including the sixty mile round trip commute) I just didn't have the time. I also hadn't learned that if inspired, you can write in ten and fifteen minute mini-blocks of time. Back then, I thought if you couldn't spend four or five solid hours at your desk (before the invention of laptops) then you just couldn't write at all.

    Writing has been my "day job" for fifteen years. (Holy cow, I hadn't done the math until just now!) I also haven't done a lot (OK, any) contemplation of how the change of season affects my writing. But since you asked...

    I am a night writer by nature. I usually fight this inclination because if I write before sleep, I go on writing in my dreams. Which is not particularly restful. I can make this up in summer catnapping.

    Extra daylight hours do not inspire me to stay parked in front of a laptop inside. They do inspire me to walk (even if it's just around the asphalt parking lot of the skating rink). Maybe pace would be a better word. Whatever you call it, mindless activity gets my mojo going. I can pace outside at home, but I live in a friendly neighborhood. Passing a dog-walking neighbor without at least saying "Hi" blows my stream of thought. I never have that problem in the rink parking lot.

   More than anything, however, my young authors (ages 10-14) bring out my best creative game. They help me as much (if not more) than I help them.  Each group is different and memorable. This year I have a new venue...a converted carriage house on the grounds of an antebellum mansion. Who knows what kind of writing energy we will find there?

   Now if you will excuse me, I need to load up the car with all the teaching necessities...books, white boards, markers, dictionaries, and a pencil sharpener (wherever I am giving the workshop, there never seems to be a pencil sharpener!) I am off to meet a new group of fresh, excited and eager-to-learn writers.

    I can't wait.

Posted by Mary Ann Rodman

P.S from Carmela: Don't forget to enter our current giveaway contest for a chance to win an autographed copy of David Harrison's picture book Cowboys (Wordsong). Read April's terrific interview with him for details.


Carmela Martino said...

MA, I know just what you mean about being inspired by "young, enthusiastic writers." That's what keeps me teaching summer writing camps. (It's definitely NOT the pay.) Enjoy!

Linda B said...

Since that is the age that I taught Mary Ann, I loved hearing about your own writing life, your inspiration & that you get even more energized when you hold the workshop. Sounds lovely. Thanks for telling about your experience! (The heat has arrived here in Denver too; we're setting records-102, 102, 103, and so on-awful!)

mary ann rodman said...

A quick update on the first day...each time a get new groups I am amazed at the number of serious and sophisticated writers. For instance a 12-year-old who asked if THE ILLIAD could be considered a verse novel!
Each time, I think to myself, "It can't get better than this....but it does!" Even though I always come home feeling like I've been hit by a truck (it's a six hour day), an hour later I am revved and ready to write...and wonder how I will be surprised and amazed tomorrow.
Linda, its only 95 here, so I feel like a wimp in comparison.

Carolee Dean said...

How wonderful that your parks department sponsors a workshop for young writers. Hope the carriage house is air conditioned. I also have to be at school at 7 so I completely understand the need to write a lot in the summer.