Summer break…yeah, right!

So I decided to take a little break from writing this summer. In early June I finished the sequel to The Outer Banks House (now in the hands of my agent), and I felt I needed a breather. I write when I can, usually when my two-year-old is at preschool or napping, and the hardship of fitting writing into such a confining schedule had worn me down. I thought about plot and character and theme and dialogue and sentence construction all day, even when not writing. It’s enough to make a person go insane. Come to think, it’s very much like living with a toddler who badgers her mother all day for 1) milk, 2) water, 3) another episode of Caillou, 4) Cheezits, 5) potty assistance 6) cookies 7) “stuffing” (which is the actual bag of stuffing from her favorite bunny, torn out and emptied of stuffing. Said bunny is a forgotten carcass in the crib) 8) “mommy carry you” (translated, means “pick me up and hold me, mommy) 9) sunglasses (requested inside or out) 10) shoes, her own or her mother’s…you get the idea. When Ellery is awake, I don’t have thoughts of my own. It’s like my brain has been hijacked, my body put to use only to serve this one tiny and demanding person. Toddlers could really rule the world someday. They would sit on small, fuzzy-animal thrones (that also doubled as potties), their mothers on leashes crouching in fear beside them, boxes of Goldfish and sippy cups of milk at the ready.

So to let go of the novel, to put it in a professional’s hands, was something I’d been looking forward to for a while. Just to give my tired old multitasking brain a rest. I couldn’t wait to curl up during naptime with books written by other people. My very own summer reading list! Or watch movies that my husband would scoff at. Or take a Jacuzzi bath in the dusty master tub. Paint my nails. How decadent! There were also pantries and drawers and closets to organize, digital photo albums to create on Snapfish, cars to wash and vacuum, blogs to write on. Things that I always meant to get to but just didn’t have the time because of my writing. I have already crossed off most of the things on that list and it is only mid-July. Other than the reading, the tasks were not very soul-satisfying.

What is more, I’ve discovered that summer is really about my honing my driving skills for the upcoming school year. I am an underpaid chauffeur, constantly shuttling my children to summer camps, the pool, friends’ houses, tennis matches, while at the same time fitting in frazzled and unplanned trips to 3 different grocery stores, the gym, etc. I must say, I drive by retirement homes with a jealous and wistful eye. Ever since I completed my third novel, I just haven’t felt myself. Kind of depressed even.

Drumroll and trumpet blast, please. I missed writing! Let me rephrase that, because actual writing is difficult, on the best of days. What I missed most, I think, was having a project that fueled my passion. And making up a story, getting to know characters, researching topics, especially historical, is all I ever truly want to do. In a life full with Big Ben pendulum swings, writing a novel is something I can control, do for myself, get right. I’ve found myself thinking about the next project, just little stirrings of wispy ideas, but I’m still forcing myself to go through the stack of books on my beside table before starting to write again. God, summer is hard.


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