What I Did on My Summer Vacation

image of American Goldfinch by Loren Webster

Writing Lab reconvenes tomorrow after a hiatus of a few weeks — and a break for some members of most of the summer. As we begin our sixth year writing together, I know that one of the things we will talk about — and maybe write about — is what we did over the summer.

Summers are never about getting lots of writing done — not when you have children still living at home and on vacation from school. Not when you decide to take the family to Orlando, or your mother is ill, or and your nephew is getting married, or your kids want to go camping. Or all of those.

Except I did manage to get more writing done this year, and I thought I’d tell you how I did that — just in case your fall is already shaping up to be busy.

  1. I committed to writing every day. Nothing new for me, as you know. (Fifteen minutes counts.) I stepped it up, however, by committing to write one new, original postcard poem every day in August. Some of the poems were pretty awful. Some of them…maybe more can be made out of those. One hopes. During my sojourn in Idaho I wrote some poems that I really like, and my 45 minutes or an hour hidden away each morning, writing, were a really good way to begin my days of camping with four girls, days that were great fun, and exhausting.
  2. I took several mini-retreats. When my sister and her husband took off for exotic locales like Montana and Portland and Arizona, I took advantage of their offer to use their house. One night, or two — it wasn’t two weeks at Yaddo, but just having even a smallish chunk of time in which no one needed me (except my mother, who lives five minutes from my sister) — were a huge bonus. I got up every morning, opened my notebook, and read, reread, scribbled, dreamed. When my friend Carla invited me to join her in Port Townsend for a few days to work on poetry, I took advantage of that, too.
  3. One more thing I did was to carry a small notebook with me — everywhere. I carried it when I walked my dog at Picnic Point beach park, and when I walked in Port Townsend with Carla. I also carried it on a 3-mile walk through the Theler Wetlands in Belfair. (I was inspired by Loren Webster who frequently walks at Theler with his camera, and writes about it at his blog, In a Dark Time…the Eye Begins to See.)
  4. A fourth thing, that (it occurs to me) does not go without saying, and perhaps deserves a little emphasis, is that I was willing to write badly. I had no expectations of what I jotted down in my small notebook. A few notes toward something larger, a description, a piece of overheard conversation. No judgment.

And now that I look at it this way, a pretty good season for writing.

“To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.” -Robert Louis Stevenson

4 replies
  1. awritersalchemy
    awritersalchemy says:

    Thank you for the comment, Abbie. It’s funny — I started the post feeling stressed and that I hadn’t done enough, but ended it feeling that all was good. Writing IS helpful in developing perspective. 🙂

  2. Carolynne Harris
    Carolynne Harris says:

    What I did this past summer hmmmmmmmm today I’m totally exhausted so the beauty of my garden, passion flowers and pink roses which got all mixed up together and brought joy. And my yellow squash (organic) plants were slow starters and now still producing – that’s my joy, gardening in summer and supposedly having lazy days, but that doesn’t happen because I’m, like you and others, a caregiver. But still I am glad to have my 100 year old mom in her home and my life mostly in tact. Edmonds isn’t at war and we aren’t going in small boats across the Sound to find salvation.


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