We’re all aware of the idea of summer reading — those special tables at your favorite bookstore filled with books considered light reads, something to take to the beach or to read on the plane as you journey to the family vacation spot. But what about summer writing? You never hear about that. Is writing the same year round? If so, why do I find it more difficult to get up and write on a day like today where, here in Seattle, the sun is up at 5:15 a.m and doesn’t set until 9:00 p.m? My writing routine is set. Ideally I get up at 6:45, make myself a latté and head to my home office. In the winter, I sometimes want to pull the covers back up and sleep until it’s light out but more often than not I make my way to the computer instead. Why is it more difficult when it’s nice outside?
Today, I awoke to the sounds of birds outside my window and the sun shining in. I made my coffee as usual but took it outside to drink sitting in the sun and admiring the progress of yesterday’s gardening. I replaced the lavender hedge along the drive because the five-year old plants were looking woody and sad. The beautiful new plants look happy in their weed-free bed, freshly planted and just waiting to send up those pale purple blooms whose fragrance will fill the air in a couple of weeks. And I know I will not even mind weeding this bed because the perfume will make the task lighter, I’ll close my eyes halfway and pretend I’m in Provence.
Then I head to my dooryard garden and smile at the peonies in full glory right now, decide to cut a bouquet of them to put in my favorite Italian vase — the one I trudged in my carry-on bag all the way home from San Gimigiano over ten years ago now. But the peonies need some greens, so I add a few branches of a deciduous shrub just showing buds of pink flower clusters, I can’t remember the name of it. Almost done. But the bouquet needs something else. Oh right, those tall blue spikey perennials are blooming too, add a few of those and it’s perfect. I could go down and start writing now but I think I should cut a few of these tangerine shrub roses to put in the Little Shirley vase given to me by my writing buddy Janis for my birthday. Now my office looks more inviting and perhaps the writing can begin.
You see what I mean. When it’s summer outside, I want to be out there too enjoying the glory of nature. Maybe I’ll try getting one of those anti-glare covers for my laptop so I can actually move my writing outdoors on these gorgeous days. Or maybe I’ll switch to writing at night. This seems unlikely since, as mentioned, it’s light until past nine and after nine my brain sort of shuts down, begins to hibernate. Maybe I need to take myself to a coffee shop to write where I’m not distracted by my garden and all the extra tasks that summer adds to my already full schedule.
I remember seeing a recent issue of Poets and Writers magazine which included an article called, Over 200 Ways to Find Time and Space for Your Writing. I check it out now and discover that it links to a database on writer’s conferences and residencies. Find it here: http://www.pw.org/conferences_and_residencies
Near Seattle we have the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association’s summer conference coming up in July http://www.pnwa.org/ and in a couple of weeks the Chuckanut Writer’s Conference near Bellingham http://chuckanutwritersconference.com/. And maybe that is one answer. In the summer, just as we want light reading, maybe we need a change of scene to get re-energized for writing, that solitary thing we do sitting in a room of our own, a clean well lighted place, or maybe the basement office. Attending a writer’s conference might inspire you to return to your writing re-charged and ready to roll. Not exactly a vacation from writing, or writing light, but a refocusing. We each have our own writing routines and I suspect we all need to find the one that works best for us, especially in summer. For me, I’m just going to have to take it outside.