When I was growing up, summers were times to run barefoot, play kickball and our version of baseball, camp, ride bikes, read books, explore the weedy, woody places where no one had yet built a house or a store, run a little bit wild.
Come September, we got new shoes, new pencils, clothes to replace the ones we’d worn out or outgrown, and went back to school, to desks and schedules and homework.
When my own children were growing up, summers were times when I set writing mostly aside so we could camp, canoe, sail, bike, explore. Come September, I bought them new shoes, new clothes, new technology, and sent them off to desks and schedules and homework.
My children are long grown (as am I), but the pattern persists.
This past summer, I traveled with my friend to independent bookstores to sign our just-published book, Searching for Minnesota’s Native Wildflowers. I went north to endless summer daylight in Churchill, Manitoba, to learn about sub-arctic wildflowers. I hiked, canoed, sailed, gardened. I did not write regularly or often. For years now at summer’s end I’ve gone to a writing retreat up in Rainy Lake on the Canadian border with fellow children’s writers. The retreat is many things—time with writing friends, time to write, time to critique, time to hang a hammock between trees or canoe around the island or plunge into the lake after an evening sauna. It’s time to think about the months ahead and the stories I want to tell. Time to remember that some stories rise unbidden, without schedule or calendar, and some come only with patient practice of daily showing up at the typewriter or computer or notebook. Most of all, it is a time apart with wonderful friends, who, as one of them said, “raise the wind in my writing sails.”
So I am raising my sails, planning the months ahead, reawakening the trolls whose stories won’t leave me alone, practicing butt-in-chair on a daily basis, and waiting hopefully for those stories that might rise like the sun over a September lake, full of brightness and glory.
September always reminds me that we are writers. This is what we do, and we do it in the company of other writers, physical or not, who also love and wrestle with writing.
September has come and gone by the time I post this, but still I wish you fair winds in your writing sails in all the months ahead.