Musings on the Art of Writing

As a child, I discovered fantastic worlds created in books. When I began writing about the worlds of my own imagination, I realized how hard authors work to set their characters free to live for our enjoyment. This blog will explore that weird and wonderful process.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

On the Brink of Summer

Spring comes late to Alberta and the advent of summer is hard to define.  We can get heavy snow in June or a killing frost in late May.  No one can predict.  But, I've always felt summer began when school ended.  I've been tied to the school system for 55 years as a student, parent, or spouse of a professor.  I've come to think of September 1st as my New Year's Day and June 30th as the beginning of summer.

Today, though, is the last day of school for my grandsons.  They live in Colorado and their springs are earlier and their winters late.  So, today they leave the confines of their school desks and all the rules one must obey and embark on a summer of learning through osmosis.

I use that word because I was once a biologist and it describes exactly how I believe we learn best.  I was a good student, learning from a book came easy but I think it's not the only way to learn.  Summer is the perfect time to absorb knowledge.  Perhaps you learn to identify a bird's song or build the biggest Lego castle yet.  It doesn't matter as you are adding to your knowledge base and who knows when that might be useful.  And if not useful, wasn't it fun to learn?

I spent my summers playing outside as most kids of my generation.  With our dog in tow, we'd explore our world without fear.  Mom was home to treat cuts and bruises and feed us when we were hungry.  I spent many hours high in a tree telling stories to anyone who listened.  There is a certain magic in the forest.  Using osmosis, I absorbed the sounds and smells that I still tap when writing.  And if I weren't outdoors, I had my nose in a book (there was no such thing as daytime TV).  Again, learning through osmosis.

My own kids lived in the city where streets divided neighbourhoods and mothers worked.  Most kids were off in day care so there were few kids to play with.  We created a vacation spot in our back yard where they could wile away the sunny days.  With little money for day/overnight camps, we took our kids to the mountains so they could enjoy the magic of the forest.  Osmosis again at work.

I wrote my first novel, a set of stories based in a land called Katishwa, during the summer I was seventeen.  I wrote on loose leaf paper using a 2H pencil (see White Paper).  What was I thinking?  Yes, we had a typewriter but my typing was pathetic (still is).  I had a part-time job working for the department of education but that didn't fill the long summer days and one could only read so many books.

So today, being the last day of school for some, is the brink of summer to me.  I still find my creative juices flow better when the sun is shining and I'm warm.  I've set myself a goal this summer which I hereby announce.  I will write my Sarah novel this summer.  There I've said it and now it must happen (I can see my son-in-law giving me a thumbs up).  But first, I must finish the edit of White Crane.  Chapter 16 is staring at me so I will end this blog.

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