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Endless Summer

Remember that movie? Well, I’m back after 10 days’ vacation, and I’m ready for another 10. Why are summers the busiest season in bookdom? It’s enough to make me want to teach just to have summers off.

Time for sleep, little Charlotte…

Babies crying has been my life for going on 5 years now and I still haven’t developed that trick of ignoring the sound. Someone said you get used to it, but I think you either have that ability or you don’t. With the first kid, it never lasted long and she didn’t need to cry long. But everyone knows the second is proof that you should have stopped on the first. No. I love second-borns. I even married one.

Summers are full of vacations and fun and sun and growing stuff–like flowers, and kids, and dreams. And all of that is a bit crazy-making. Every time Sheri and I go on vacation we start to thinking about life and hopes and dreams. And it gets a little busier-feeling. I know a lot of people who do that. Rather than a perfect convergence of idealism and realism, for many of us creatively-types it can be a perfect train wreck, like at a wedding when you’re supposed to be having fun and all you can do is try to avoid the wrong people and find a chance to greet the right people. And not miss the cake in the process. But invariably, you end up at some table near the back shielding your eyes from the visual assault of bearded Aunt Ginny in a never-ending electric slide with Cousin Ira from Tuttsville who thinks Listerine is something you use to get leeches off your best bloodhound. (Paul, your wedding was really so much better than most. Really.)

Sorry. Where was I? I suppose we really just wish summers were longer to fit everything in. Sure, in some places they are longer. But what we really want is unlimited time for everything before we shrivel up and forget everything that used to feel so damned important as though there were so many things worth sacrificing for. And I suppose we could talk about something like there’s plenty of time for the things you really want to do and the prioritizing process is refining both emotionally and mentally. But we don’t want to. We want more Summer.

We’ve all got endless books to read, endless proposals to write, endless friends to see, and endless kids to create endless memories with (once they finally get some sleep).  Fact is, we don’t have enough time for everything we want to do and all of this stuff is a "priority," so there’s no solution other than to defer some of the non-vital things until later. And maybe that’s for the best, but it’s scary to think of the creativity getting shoved aside. 

Does it matter when you defer the dream to write? Of course it does. The dream will change because you change. Ideally, the more you age, the better the dream becomes, but that’s ideally. Look at Salinger (okay, he wouldn’t have been published today, but still). There’s what you want to do and what you REALLY want to do, and making time for it by prioritizing isn’t always the issue. Sometimes it’s actually impossible to write. Oh, you could get published easy enough (that’s the consolation, isn’t it?), but to actually write what you’ve been waiting so long to write, regardless of publishing or priorities or inconvenient realities? Impossible.

Or maybe it just feels impossible given the current realities. Maybe Summer can be endless if you change the view, look past the boundaries and see the elements for what they are rather than the sum of an irreducible "completeness." Sun, sky, some clouds, water, flowers. The pieces still work individually. Ideal convergence isn’t the point anyway: it’s appreciating what you have that counts. Change the view and you see it, right?

So maybe we can put a happy spin on it. That’s what Summer does to you. Get out there and enjoy it. Prioritize and adjust, but don’t give up. Just never give up. You don’t want to miss the bigger point.


13 Responses to “Endless Summer”

  1. Elaina says:

    It feels impossible all right.

  2. Elaina says:

    Yeah, wanted to finish my thought but it’s almost 3 AM so I was trigger happy. Yeah, it feels impossible to me right now. The problem as I see it, is that I have trouble fully enjoying where I’m at because the writing still calls. Yet there’s no way around the fact that it can’t be a priority. Not a priority but the need to write doesn’t quiet down. My demanding, exhausting job (that I adore) takes priority. But beyond work, I got nothin’ flowing out of me creatively. Not really much to readjust. So the dream may be shelved? Maybe giving up isn’t so bad?

  3. Uhm…Ema? Quitting is not allowed. Ever.
    Mick–I hope you’re taking your own advice.

  4. Katy says:

    Elaina, remember, life has seasons. For years I felt the frustration you feel, wanting to follow this dream but tied up with job, kids, exhaustion. Then one day the kids got older and life got simpler. It was time, and I began to write.
    But even in the busy times, I always wrote something. An article or story here, a bad poem there, ad copy for a short time, and off and on a journal.
    Hang on to your dream. Keep writing and watch for the open door.  Read Annette Smith’s interview at Novel Journey: http://noveljourney.blogspot.com/2007/06/author-interview-annette-smith.html. She will inspire you. And listen to Dick Staub’s interviews with Walter Wangerin: http://www.thekindlings.com/2007/06/23/walter-wangerin-saint-julian-podcast-dick-staub-show-interview-segment-1-of-4/. They will challenge you.
    This is a matter of faith.

  5. Mick says:

    I am mostly advising myself here, as with a lot of what I write. And I just read this encouraging quote in a review of The Gum Thief (Douglas Coupland), “Time speeds up in a terrifying manner in your mid-thirties.” I’m not quite to mid-thirties, but I can definitely relate.

  6. TJ Wilson says:

    Mick – this post hits home… we can’t possibly do it all, so what do we cheat on? And yes, I recognize my fear that the best (creativity) will get pushed aside amidst the “must-do’s.” One of my biggest life lessons is learning to be interrupt-able (not easy) so I avoid rigid scheduling… it seems to be a catch-22. Appreciate your thoughts.

  7. Impossible? God forbid…
    Passion dictated by priority is no consolation at all.
    When the timing is right, meaning must overcome sense.
    Determining the former is harder than it sounds, and waylays many a gifted traveler.

  8. Good to hear, Mick. :)

  9. Tina says:

    Mick, your post reminds me of something I recently read in Tender Mercies for a Mother’s Soul by Angela Thomas.
    “For me, the key to balancing my calling and these years of mothering (read: reality of conflicting priorities) is to continue to feed the passion and yet rest in His holy contentment for these days…passionate contentment is about cultivating your gifts, enjoying your passions, and yet resting…Let Him give wings to your passions, live according to holy contentment, and in all these things…press on.”

  10. Vennessa says:

    “Time speeds up in a terrifying manner in your mid-thirties.”
    Oh great. Now I’m depressed. Thanks for the quote, Mick.
    Can we not talk about summer please? I’m freezing down here at the bottom of the world. I’m desperate for a little natural warmth instead of icy winds and endless frosty mornings.
    As for the impossibility in finding time to write – ah, that endless dilemma. But, despite the depressing quote, I am on a high from having managed to sneak some time into my schedule. After a frantic two weeks clearing my desk, I indulged in a rare week of writing which resulted in 10,076 new words for my wip.
    It’s going to be a few months before I can manage such a feat again, but in the mean time, I’ll be riding on a high.
    For those of us who lead extra busy lives juggling work and family, we just have to grab whatever time we can to pursue our dream. Not easy, and sometimes weeks can go by with no new words, but quitting is not an option. Press on. Take those few moments you can, and create!

  11. J. Brisbin says:

    I have felt this way all summer. I’m going to school in the Fall and Spring, working full-time, raising five kids, and (somewhere in there) trying to write a novel. It feels utterly impossible! I can’t keep my head above water and when I have *time* I don’t have *energy*, so the stuff I do write is crap. I need that best part of the day that everyone else tries to take from me, but I rarely get it.
    The more I get behind, the more it bothers me. I feel absolutely flummoxed right now, I’m so far behind. Nice to know it doesn’t get any better! :)

  12. anita henderson says:

    yay! summer! i was drawn to this post, because endless summer is precisely what i do not have, but long for.
    the wishing is in the longing is in the making of the process to higher ascent.
    what i want to say is, we are all okay. all of us. none of us do it all, and all of us want more. love yourselves and put the bat away.
    as brisbin exhorts us, enjoy parts of “endless” summer–the blue, the sun, the bird, because the whole is an illusion and impossibility. when you are forced to choose pieces over perfection, give thanks, even in the midst of any despair concerning missed time for writing. the wishing is in the longing is in the writing which WILL come.

  13. anita henderson says:

    it’ll come.

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