Friday, July 3, 2009

Staying Focused

A number of years ago, in what now seems like a completely different life, I was having dinner with a friend at a local restaurant. We were feeling glum because it was 4th of July weekend and we were among the few people in town who weren’t driving on the GSP over the Driscoll Bridge to go “down the shore” as we say in New Jersey. The waitress commented how slow business was that evening, but then reminded us how lucky we were to be enjoying a meal and sharing a bottle of wine instead of being stuck in the shore traffic.

My friend and I raised our glasses to toast each other. Who needs the beach, the surf, the sun, the fun, the lifeguard eye candy? We’ve got grilled chicken and a bottle of Zin. What more could we want?

Okay, who were we kidding? It sucked being stuck in town and we knew it.

This is how I feel about posting at the moment. Who sits at their computer on 4th of July weekend? Surely my post will be met with crickets.

Shhh...don’t you hear them?

If you’re still here, thanks.

I love the summer. I like all seasons for different reasons, but the summer has always been special to me. I don’t know if it’s natural or learned to sort of “let go” in the summer. Summer to me meant endless days of playing manhunt, climbing trees, chasing down the ice cream truck, staying in the pool until my lips were blue and my eyes were bloodshot, catching fireflies, pulling our mattresses into the one room with air conditioning in our house and falling asleep while we told each other stories. Not much in there about writing, right?

While all of the above had to do with my childhood, inside me still is the internal “It’s Summer” alarm and I instantly want to let go. I still climb trees and go to the pool (great place to observe teenage angst firsthand) I love to read the fun stuff during the summer – the juicy, lighthearted romps that are sometimes surprisingly full of emotion and complex characters. My birthday is in the summer, and that must always involve chocolate. And summer wouldn’t be summer if it didn’t involve at least one trip to the beach. Again…where is the writing?

I know what I should say – the writing is right here. Every day I commit to X amount of words, no matter what. Well…I haven’t been doing that just yet. I have been working – I’m looking for an agent, but that involves a different kind of writing, or at least a different part of my brain. I have a piece entered into a contest. I’m meeting with my critique group. And I’m reading a lot. Whenever I find a moment to sit down and work on my WIP, my mind pulls a lock down and I think of all the things I could be doing. And while I know that’s part of it – to tame your mind and gently call it back to the work, the lure of summer is so hard to resist.

So how about you? How do you keep your focus on writing when the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer roll on by?


  1. Robin, I hear you.

    It's hard to sit inside at a computer when the sun is shining after a month of rain.

    I've changed my routine. I write at night....sometimes.

  2. I'm here on what seems like a miraculous day, because the sun in shinning!

    We did the parade thing this morning and thought about going to Hoboken for the fireworks, but I'm not into crowds and you KNOW it's going to be a zoo. We'll take a walk in the beautiful sunshine, and have a barbeque in the long awaited for sun, and then go to our local fireworks, in a cool, clear rainless night.

    Where's the writing in all this??? Who cares? It's not raining out!

  3. I think writing a query and a synopsis for an agent search is just as hard (if not harder) than working on a novel.

    You're right, it's a different part of the brain, but I certainly wouldn't call it a "lazy summer" part of the brain!

  4. Well, New Jerseyans, I think it's your right as a human being to step out into the sunshine after a month of rain!

    I've been trying to chisel out some time and I have - it's just not as productive as I would like.

    Gale - I agree writing queries is NOT for the lazy part of my brain!

    I have to remind myself I AM being proactive, maybe not as proactive as other times of the year when there are less distractions, but I'm still putting in time.