I love summer! I love playing in my garden, in and on the water, sleeping late or getting up with the sun, eating fresh vegetables, summer fruits, and ice cream! My list goes on and on – including an absence of the deadlines that hang over my head during the academic year. The freedom! It wasn’t always so. Back in the days when I managed a children’s resident 4-H camp, my summers were anything but free or lazy. Fun, certainly, but not free! So my current free and easy summer schedule is more precious than gold.
In an effort to not my fritter freedom, I’ve so far completed not one but two (!) sets of revisions on my next novel in anticipation of its release by or at least in 2020. It took me at least six sets of revisions before I was willing to let anyone else read Come Back. I’m hoping that I might be able to reach that point a little sooner this time. But…maybe not. I see at least one more set to tie up loose threads – which could lead to still another set of revisions. But I’m thrilled to say that the minor character Rodney Richfield, who only appears in one chapter, is consistently named Rodney instead of also being Jerry and Ernie. Same guy, three different names. In one chapter! Sometimes all a writer can do is shake her head.
So on to my next set – in a few days. A breather between the work of revisions is both a reward for finishing and a necessary lull. Stale eyes don’t notice inconsistencies and holes – or grammar or typing errors. And this writer uses a lull to mull. If I let my characters rest, I hope they’ll tell me what more they might need or how to solve a thorny problem that needs attention. For that, I must mull.
Mull time also provides a chance to tackle tasks I do not want to do but would love to have behind me. You guessed it. I’m s-l-o-w-l-y hoeing through the accumulated papers of a long and multi-faceted career. It’s not a process I relish. (Why do you think I’m writing this post? Procrastination can take many forms!) The secret, I’ve found, is that when enough time has elapsed, one no longer cares about all the crap one thought might someday be useful or important. I’ve dumped what I see as substantial amounts of said crap. With little visible progress. So I’m eager to get back to writing – or anything else!
Like reading. And yes, I’ve done a lot of that this summer too. Here’s a round-up of books I read in June. More to come when I post July’s Salutations.
Suzy Krause wove a clever tale that explores the limitations one puts on oneself and how imagination can let us hurdle those fences. Anxiety-ridden Valencia has the worst job in the world and is pushed beyond her endurance – until she’s saved by a good friend, a new love, and herself. This was a charmer with lots of fun as well as life lessons.
A great title sells the book! I love Bar Harbor. And the idea of famous writers living out their old age together. Ultimately the story is more about the female orderly – scarred in her soul and on her face – than it is the aging writers. But the best part of the book was the story three writers concoct together, each taking alternate chapters. The realities of aging and death rang less true for me.
When an author comes across a good story about a historical figure, I’m not convinced it’s a good idea to base a novel on that story. Grace Darling was real and a hero at a time when young women were allowed few opportunities to shine. I liked learning her story and the stories of other women who took on valiant work keeping lighthouses in times of war. But the fictional 20th-century characters seemed contrived as supposed descendants of those tied to Darling and not worthy of the real woman’s story.
Sam Hill is a compelling character I won’t soon forget – more for the depth of friendship he finds than for the rare condition of red irises in his eyes. The poor kid is bullied, laughed at, and made to feel like a freak. Sam has little hope for his life, feeling his time on earth must only be endured. But his loving family and two extraordinary friends set the stage for redemption and great joy. It was a darn good read!