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.”
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?