The Eternal Romantic: Assorted and Ancillary Thoughts on Summer and Writing


Amazing how every summer, or rather, with the approach of every summer (and I’m talking when there is still snow on the ground and the wood stove still roars) I make grand plans for writing like a mad woman through July and August.  Lazy summer days, the dog days, slow afternoons with fragrant country air, breezy evenings of stars and fireflies, you know, all these leisurely moments summer seems absolutely made of, the perfect time for endlessly writing. And it never ever freaking unfolds like that.

Why?  Because the romanticized aspects of the writing life are so hard to let go of, it seems.   And really, for those of at this for awhile, well, there is not much romantic about the actual process of writing, hours alone on your butt in front of a computer screen, hot and itchy in the summer, wishing to be outside, all the things of the real world that need done, fighting for that time to write with quiet mind, to stroll into the literary landscape of the mind.Writing is never easy. The idea is romantic but the act is not.  The memory of the act is romantic.  Hindsight can give a splash of romance to the most agonizing memory.

But still I buy into the romance of summer writing.  I do not learn, year after year.  This is a time many writers dread, with such splendid writing plans that end up composted like so many over ripe strawberries.

Time and time again, year after year, I sit by the fire on a bitter cold March day planning out my summer writing retreat. And then summer arrives and winter seems like a nasty collective hallucination as the flowers bloom and every night a wind from the Bay of Fundy comes through the trees, sweeps across the pasture, and flows into the house smelling of roses, and salt water and hay, this breeze, and the coyote howls are especially crazy, and the days fill up with berry picking and jam making and all those things children want to do, and while I fall in love with these splendid days, find myself longing for the quiet of winter, the house becoming a sepulchre for the free spirited side of me that is captured by summer, the part of me that is not tame, that does not do well sitting in a contemplative silence, falling into a world in my mind, that appears before me in words.  But in the winter, when the wind blows cold and sterile, when the colour is gone, when the dirt road turns white, it is then, then that I write.

I seem to write well when the outdoors goes to sleep.  It’s curious, this connection to nature, here on the dirt road on the North Mountain in Nova Scotia.  Would it be like this anywhere else?  I often think about this, that it’s this place that is my heartland, which truly comes to life in all ways in summer, that lures me from my work.  It’s in these summer days I find my inspiration and in the winter days when  the inspiration is clay and become stories on the page.

But all this said, I am going to write this summer. You see,  I am the eternal romantic, ha ha.

The undiscovered stone staircase to the romantic act of writing.

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