Summer writing

writing3I have the hardest time keeping up a regular writing rhythm in the summer. I could do that thing that moms do where they tell you how full their dance card is and how they have to take everybody here and there and the other place, meeting the needs of the world, but before I even get started with that long boring conversation, I’ll recap. I have the hardest time keeping up a regular writing rhythm in the summer. It really all comes down to that.

It’s by choice. I love the shift in schedule that I feel and being self-employed, I can flow along with the change just like in school when finals meant summer had arrived. That really pertained mostly to grammar school since I started working alongside school at 15 and never stopped. But that feeling…when you knew, after all the field trips to ranches (yeah, I grew up in Cottonwood–what of it?) and days on the green were done, you’d have pure open time to do whatever the heck you wanted. I like to pretend I’m still doing that.

Just putting myself at the keyboard to type my three weekly blogs challenges me in the summer. I’ll keep doing it for that reason. But the main summer writing I get done is the “pre-writing” as Ray Bradbury called it once when I spoke with him at the Torrance Civic Center. What he said stuck and was in essence this: just because you’re not sitting alone in a room at a table banging away on a typewriter (he was old school) doesn’t mean you’re not writing. You’re doing that which informs your writing by living in the world, by looking at the grand oak outside your window and imagining it comes to life at night, covered in fairies. (I ad-libbed there–he actually said the roller coaster down on the beach in Santa Monica and how it looked like a dinosaur in the dusk.)DSCN3084

 

By smelling the summer rain across the meadow. By walking through the forest, and listening to the stories from the towering redwoods in the Quail Hollow Reserve.

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From watching your almost 11 year old dog play with the froth of the ocean for the first time on Dog Beach. Through sipping a regional zin in a barn filled with stories with my husband and listening to an old winemaker fill the air with stories while your dog listens at your feet.

I may not excel at summer writing, but I’m good at summer living…

I ask myself three questions every day. I think I got these from Brendon Burchard. I actually put them on my Google Calendar so they pop up on my phone each morning. Here they are:

  • Did I live?
  • Did I love?
  • Did I matter?

I have the hardest time keeping up a regular writing rhythm in the summer.

And that’s okay.

Finding Extra in the Ordinary

carMy friend, Kevin, took this shot on a recent business trip to New York. I asked him to find me some “writing shots” and this was one of those he came back with–along with a picture of the world’s largest eraser. (Oh, NYC, you have everything, don’t you?)

When I looked at the pictures, this was my least favorite at first. Our thread went something like this.

K: What was your favorite?

Me: The sparkly light ones. The one from the car makes me sad.

K: Funny. That’s my favorite. More like melancholy.

Me: Hmmm.

K: Like what’s this girl thinking? What’s she waiting for–her n’er do well brother who’s late again to pick her up? Did she lose her keys?

And then it occurred to me I hadn’t had my writing head screwed on at the moment I looked at that shot. As writers, we need to be close observers of the ordinary–to see the quirky spins on things, the emotions spitting from a captured image that passers-by don’t take time to notice. We need to look closely, to see the story behind the moment. After all,┬ámuch of writing happens in the pre-writing.

I know this most of the time. My family and I have played this game in restaurants over the years where we complete the story lines of fellow diners. (Beware if we see you in a Red Lobster. It could be you.) We talk about the relationship of the people, where they come from, their jobs, their hopes and dreams, their scandal du jour. Imagination game #134.

We need more of that. Imagination. Seeing the extraordinary.

So, then, why do you think this girl is sitting here?