Monday, July 1, 2019

Summertime Sets the Stage For A Woman Alone

Languorous July days are balm to the writer’s edgy soul. July offers her loving touch in morning breezes and sunlit skies. While taking Lily on her morning walk―early morning before anyone is out except for one lone jogger―I feel summer setting the stage to write. The wind whispers and lifts the humidity that has laid her heavy hand on our little corner of the world here in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Summer embraces a writing life, if we let her. Organizations and schools take a break or move to a lighter schedule and so this is a time for contemplation and reflection―the heart of writing.

This summer I'm working on A Woman Alone: Lessons from the Writing Life. I ponder whether the title embodies the essence of what I’m trying to say. Does the book offer something to my readers, traumatized by loss, inspired by aging, committed to pursuing their passion?

I was born in July, a lazy, hot month when friends and families disappeared for the shore or the mountains. As a little girl, July meant birthdays alone with Mother and Dad. As a widow, it meant birthdays without John, the crafter of dreams, the wordsmith of loving birthday messages.

Alone, a writing friend said, has many meanings. There is living alone, there can be deep aloneness even when living with someone, there is alone, as in the joy of solace and reflection...there is a woman alone honoring her wisdom and insights.

I drive through countryside, past corn and soy fields and farms with stone silos. My destination―a coffeeshop on a winding street tucked along the French Creek where water rushes over massive boulders from some antediluvian period. These moments are what the writer lives for, making sure the creative pen is not stilled by the distractions, the losses, the grief of a weeping world.

I order a cup of Columbian coffee, pour in a generous amount of cream―a treat since I switched to black decaf months ago. I turn off my cell phone and open a worn copy of Clarissa Pinkola Estes' Women Who Run With the Wolves. The crone. The witch. The Mother of Us All. I read it years ago, just out of college, a time when I toyed with becoming a psychologist. She writes:

“The only trust required is to know that when there is one ending there will be another beginning.” 

A world filled with the heartbroken, the tightrope walker, but also the "leaper of chasms", as Estes says.

At church on Sunday, I walk the labyrinth, made out of white chalk markings on a grassy field next to the cemetery where a small American flag flutters in the breeze. Several of us had the same idea on this sultry, summer morning. A woman stops walking, greets me and gives me a hug. “Thanks for walking the labyrinth with us,” she says.

It’s good being a part of a church community. It’s good being a part of any community with like-minded souls. As I follow the circular pathways of the labyrinth, I breathe deeply―in and out―mindful of the beauty of this summer day. Life isn’t always the way I wanted it to be―so many losses―but dwelling on that depletes my energy. I walk past the gray and white tombstones. The ghosts are everywhere. So is the coo of the mourning dove―the sunlight on day lilies reaching toward the sky.

What is your writing life like in summer? What techniques can you share to make summer a time of creativity and renewal?


Linda Hoye said...

“Summer embraces a writing life, if we let her. Organizations and schools take a break or move to a lighter schedule and so this is a time for contemplation and reflection―the heart of writing.”

This is a beautiful meditation, Susan. Your gentle, thoughtful post echoes many of my own thoughts. For me, summer is fat with memories, ghosts, and a desire to ruminate and wrangle words. Summer is a time when waking early is a gift, and a perfect time to write. It’s a time of remembering and hoping and listening to the lessons life has taught us, and using words to work it all out in our minds. Long days, sultry nights, the stuff that feeds a writer’s imagination.

Allie Wanders said...

I am a July baby, too! Birthdays were indeed lonely, especially because mine falls on July 5, and everyone would leave for the July 4th holiday. I also hope to reconnect with my personal writing projects this month. Thank you for the inspiration. :) And Happy Birthday!

Susan G. Weidener said...

Thank you, Linda, and your own meditation on summer is beautiful. I like what you say about listening during this season to the lessons life has taught us as we slow down on sultry summer nights. We are, indeed, kindred spirits! Happy writing this summer.

Susan G. Weidener said...

Hi Allie and welcome to our Women's Writing Circle. Thank you for your comments and I am happy to hear that July also carries you forward in your writing journey.

Marian Beaman said...

July is my birthday month too. And also the month when I'm experiencing the birth pangs of memoir delivery. You have been down that road several times, Susan. That's one reason why your reflection resonates so rich and true. Thank you!

Susan G. Weidener said...

Happy Birthday, Marian. It's very exciting that you memoir will soon be out. I look forward to reading your beautiful reflections on growing up in here in our little corner of southeastern Pennsylvania.

Sherrey Meyer said...

Susan, this is a lovely and, for me, a moving post. Having spent three summers not writing regularly, I am growing hungry for the words that come to me and ask for a place in an essay, a book, a blog post. So glad they are coming now. And at our home, it doesn't matter a lot whether it's summer or another season. Our schedule only changes in summer with regard to Bob's musical activities--they slow down or stop altogether. I do find summer energizing, but not this one so much. Recovery has drug me down to some degree, and Bob has promised to soon start working with me to walk the flagstone path to my studio. I haven't set foot in it since the week before surgery in March. Another thing I hunger for. You've given me a prompt to write out my feelings tonight. So sorry to go on so long! I love how you bring my writing to the surface.

Susan G. Weidener said...

Thank you, Sherrey, for saying that my writing helps bring yours out. This is so true, especially when we meet in the Circle and share our stories, prompting us to go home with renewed vigor to write our stories. Writers inspire other writers. I am sorry to hear that your recovery has been slow, but I am happy to hear that you will soon be making that walk to your studio. It reminds me of Virginia Woolf...she had a walkway from the cottage leading to her studio. How lucky you are! I would love to have a studio. Best wishes to you, good friend, on this 4th of July! Keep writing about life in the slow lane. I enjoy your blog very much.