Diving In

pool

Summer is heavy breathing down my neck – and for some reason it’s not freaking me out.

Early next week school ends for my kids, and so do my two mornings of uninterrupted writing time. I’ll have to find new ways to squeeze in my work, which might mean a combination of getting up earlier, watching less Netflix at night with my husband, and giving the kids TV time-outs (ha).

Normally, this change in routine fills me with dread, but this year I’m feeling a sense of calm as spring winds down. I’m almost welcoming the forced surrender it will require.

If only I could stay this calm all summer long.

If only I could be this calm.

Last summer, before our big move from city to country, we bounced around like pinballs, living out of suitcases, but this summer we’re home. We joined a pool so the kids can stay busy and wet, there’s a beach trip scheduled for August, and a few weeks of camp mid summer, which will no doubt be a sanity saver.

But summer with two kids mostly at home means certain sacrifices will have to be made. Summer means loosening my grip.

It’s also an ideal time to reflect on my writing goals. Over the last few months, I’ve been feeling fragmented and scattered, due in no small part to an excessive use of social media.

In some ways, joining Twitter and Facebook has been great – I’ve made many new friends (not just the kind you tally up, but real ones) and discovered some wonderful blogs. But on the flip side, so much distraction has been, well, distracting.

Not simply because I can’t stop scrolling through my Facebook feed (although that IS a problem, just ask my husband) but also because I’ve discovered many more writing opportunities.

The good news is that I’ve picked up a few exciting bylines, most recently an article on The Mid that I wrote after a traumatic bathing suit shopping trip. I also have several articles out for submission, including another anthology. I’ve been honing my essay writing skills as well as my ability to roll with rejection.

But on the flip side I’ve been neglecting my novel and fiction writing in general. Writing essays for online publications is fast work compared to the long slog of a novel. If my piece is accepted, I’m rewarded with the buzz of recognition, and it makes me want more.

Which is all fine and good…except I’m not a freelancer.

I know it’s not all or nothing. I don’t have to choose sides, so to speak, but I do need to choose priorities. I’m still interested in writing essays and improving my craft, but I also want to finish my novel and continue writing short stories.

That is why summer is the perfect time for me to step out of the rushing river of social media and submissions, and give myself some space to examine my goals and dreams.

river

I love living along this gorgeous river.

I’m in good company, at least. Two writers that I admire greatly, Nina Badzin and Lindsey Mead, have both written blog posts in a similar vein. It’s important that everyone, not just writers, take time to step out of the busy pace of life to reevaluate and examine, to track their steps and see if they want to continue along the same path, or change directions.

My little guy at a crossroads.

I was listing to Krista Tippet’s On Being podcast the other day and was struck by something her guest, writer and thinker Maria Popova, said:

“Identity is this perpetual process, it’s like constantly clearing out and rearranging an attic, and it’s as much about throwing out all the furniture and trinkets that no longer serve us as bringing in new ones. In that sense, it’s just as important to continue defining who we are, is to continue eliminating who we are not.”

As I veer headlong toward my fortieth birthday, it’s actually something of a pleasure to dive into this self-work – this vital sifting of who I am, which I believe I’m better equipped to do now more than ever.

 

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