Summer’s End: Accomplishments and Tasks Remaining

sun_in_shades.svg.hiIt is the last weekend of summer. School will begin Tuesday, as will a new routine. I entered summer with such plans, such goals, such enthusiastic intentions, and now, at the end of it, I look back.

Goals accomplished:

  • Spent a week with my mom
  • Traveled with my husband
  • Camped with my daughter, her husband, and my granddaughters
  • Reclaimed my living room (0nce, my son’s “man cave”)
  • Completely reorganized my office
  • Rid my office of moths (long frustrating story)
  • Finished the revisions on Set in Stone, my middle grade fantasy novel about a boy who returns from clearing a field to find his parents and neighbors all turned to stone.
  • Attended two writers conferences
  • Pitched The Swallow’s Spring (a retelling of the first part of the medieval romance of Tristan and Iseult) to four agents who all invited me to submit chapters and even a full manuscript!
  • Started a new non-fiction poetry-picture book inspired by the trip my husband and I took to Mt. Rainier.

Disappointments:

  • Did not blog regularly
  • Did not even enter my reading on Goodreads
  • Did not get my five boxes of filing all filed or thrown away
  • Did not finish writing the whole new beginning section for my fantasy novel Crown of Blossom and Flame
  • Did not get my guest room/craft room reorganized

Whew! When I sat down to write this post I felt a little dejected. (That’s why I decided to start with accomplishments. I didn’t want readers to feel depressed right along with me!) Now, I feel guilty of appearing to be bragging, but I assure you that was not my intention.

The takeaway: Do you ever feel like you just haven’t accomplished much? Sit down and list the things you have actually done. You might find yourself as pleasantly surprized as I did.

In Praise of a Good Man: One Writer’s Companion

wooded path 7.13My husband is a good man. Traveling with him is such a pleasure. Our camping trip to Mt. Rainier provides numerous examples. Among the many, many things he does that make me appreciate him so:

He lugs all the stuff out to the van (and back in when we get home), including my crate of books, drawing materials, tablet–the electronic kind, and journals.

He is a wonder at setting up camp, tying knots, building a cozy nest for us to sleep in, creating a canopy when it rains, building fires, and all other forms of activity that make “roughing it” a pleasure.

When we hike, he is patient with my constantly stopping to take notes or capture an observation or turn of phrase every hundred feet, every fifty feet, and even at intervals of every ten feet.

He photographs the things I want to remember or am trying to describe.

He engages in wordplay with me and lets me use his phrases.

He joins me in crafting our own names for the natural features we see: Snaggle-Tooth for a rock formation that just down over the road, Party Hat Jr. for a mountain peak that reminded us of Party Hat (our name for the Grand Teton), Cliffhanger Highway–many of the roads through Mt. Rainier National Park, and The Fortress for a rock formation near the summit.

Knowing my sense of balance is definitely not one of my strengths, he always offers his hand for rail-less stairways, slippery slopes, or rough patches of trail.

He lugs the camera and the water, even if they are in my lavender and brown flowered back pack.

He picks up litter left by other hikers.

He mourns the graffiti on glacier-scraped rock.

He thanks God for the beauty of our surroundings, our adventures together, our food–even meager campfire rations, and me.

He is a joy to travel with and to be creative with. All he requires is supplies for a good cup of coffee in the morning, which he is more than willing to make himself.

How does your one-and-only support you and your writing life?

Vacation Poetry Inspiration: Mount Rainier National Park

130001114I have just returned from a trip to Mount Rainier, located in Washington, where every experience was fodder for a poem. From the majesty of sub-alpine wildflower meadows, chipmunks zipping across the road, the contrast between glacier melt and snow melt rivers, to the buzz of mosquitoes when you stop to gaze in wonder at the spectacle before you.

I could not venture anywhere without pen and notebook in pocket. And often, I stopped so many times on the trail to write that I just gave up and carried it in my hands. Descriptions, phrases, recording the sounds around me–what a writer’s treasure chest the mountain was.

If you are a writer, or you want to encourage your children’s literacy skills, take pen or pencil and notebooks on vacation. Pause to write. Record what you see and hear and smell.

Easy forms of poetry to try on the road include:

  • Haiku: a 5 syllable line, a 7 syllable line, then a 5 syllable line. Traditionally these are about natural phenomenon, what better place to write them than in the great outdoors.
  • List poems: these are exactly what they sound like–poems that consist of themed lists. One of my lists from the trip included the animals of Rainier. I also intend to list, and maybe write a poem about all the wildflowers I identified on the trip.
  • Concrete poems: poems that have a physical shape. After our family’s Yellowstone trip a few years ago, I wrote a concrete poem about one of the trails we hiked that zigged and zagged like the trail.

New places, new scenery is just naturally inspiring. Have fun and record precious memories by writing poetry on your vacation.

Photo courtesy of http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=1259