note to self: about summer

One would think that summer would be a time of awesome productivity for me. After all, it’s school vacation!

One would be wrong.

And I’ve finally decided to adjust my expectations to take into account that I get very little writing done in the summer.

For one thing, summer is not a creative season for me–at least not for writing. My stories are ice flowers–they blossom in the darkness of winter nights, the grey chill of a fall day, or in the bluster of an early spring wind. Summer is too big and gorgeous and golden; somehow the overgrowth of vines and weeds, the bloom of showy roses and peonies, sap my creativity rather than inspiring it.

It’s strange, I know, but it is what it is.

Two, the very lack of school-imposed structure, the daily and weekly march of education, works against me. With a summer full of vacations, camps, and swim lessons, every week looks different from the next. The mental adjustments of getting one kid to swim and another to camp, of coordinating pickups and dropoffs, of making sure I have the right kinds of snacks for camp lunches–all of these take up a lot of headspace.

Three, what creativity I have is taken up with planning the upcoming school year. So far, I’ve pored over catalogs, checked a gazillion samples online, scanned through pages of reviews, thought and pondered and talked at poor David, and finally, finally, ordered our books for next year.

And four–my house. Summer is the time to reorganize the pantry, straighten out the school room, go through toys and books and clothes. You know, all the stuff I’ve been avoiding all year, becausewell, school.

Four, it’s nice to just relax and have lazy days. To be plain Mom instead of Teacher Mom. To play five games of Forbidden Island in one day or work on puzzle of a dragon on a rock or the Oxford Skyline.

When I start pining to go back to school (feeling that way now), when stories start sneaking into my head, when I feel the loss of creating something with my mind and hands, when summer is sliding fall-wards, then… then I know it’s time to write again.

friday this and that

Are you a NaNoWriMo winner planning to self-publish for the first time? My fabulous and generous cover artist, Ravven, is giving away a FULL publishing package to one deserving writer–complete with editing, proofreading, formatting, cover art, website graphics, and marketing help.

(And yes, yours truly is one of the volunteer beta readers!)

Go here to find out the details.

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The cover for FableCroft Publishing’s One Small Step is here!

One Small Step

This anthology contains the short story “Sand and Seawater”, co-written by Joanne Anderton and me.

Our tagline–brought to you by Jo–is Dolls are creepy, read this story!

(Better tagline coming soon…)

Aussie peeps, you can pre-order a copy here (you lucky things, you!)

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Links from around the web:

You Don’t Do Much Else Interesting and 25 Other Reasons Why No One Likes Your Art

More Insights on Sharpening Your Creative Mind

IndieReCon (posts, videos, chat replays)

Out, All of You! On fighting for your own voice

a tap shoe and an owl statue

Today I drew a tap shoe and an owl statue.

My creative (non-work-writing) goal for February is to draw every day–though at the rate I’m going, it’s more like Draw Every Other Day.

I didn’t draw much as a kid. Actually, I hated art class. I didn’t have an abundance of natural artistic talent. The disconnect between the picture in my head and the one on my page frustrated me. My Bs and Cs in art dragged down an otherwise stellar report card–which made me rather cross.

And I was slow. My art pad was filled with incomplete projects since I always ran out of time. (I’m that way with all hands-on work, including labs. I was always the last one out of lab, one of the reasons I didn’t minor in chemistry. I never finished my wooden-spoon doll with the paper mache head nor my embroidery sampler in Handwork during elementary school. And yes, it still galls after all these years!)

I would’ve rather done extra math than painted a still life.

But, secretly, I always wished I could draw well.

There were two things I didn’t understand about art when I was a kid. I don’t know if it’s because no one ever told me, or that I didn’t listen (I was stubborn, too, as well as being a loather-of-art-class).

First, you can learn art. What I thought of as talent is mainly skill. A teachable skill. No one ever taught me things like how to use my art materials, how to create depth, or the proportions of the human face. I didn’t realize that one could take art skills and break them down into smaller steps, and that an ordinary person like me could learn them.

Second, because I had it in my mind that being good at art was an innate talent–either you had it or you didn’t–I never bothered to practice it. One art class a week was not enough to make up for my lack of giftedness. If I wanted to draw well–and yes, I wanted to, still do–I should’ve been practicing.

Twenty years later, with a writing career and homeschooled kids, I’m finally squeezing it in. It’s not much, it’s not going to be consistent, but it’s still keeping the dream alive.

How about you? Do you have something that you secretly wish you could do well? Something that’s always appealed to you, but that you’ve never tried?