The heat of summer is the hardest time for me as a writer.
I have three single-spaced pages of notes to work into a complete (yes, complete!) draft of a new book. The story stands ready to be edited and polished. I stand ready to immerse myself within it. And yet, a war rages inside my head. Thoughts of sunshine and fun do battle with the book upon my laptop. However, I know better than to begin a major writing project in the midst of summer. My son is home. All the time. And like the good mother that I am, I enrolled him for sports camps, swimming lessons, nature classes, and more. Week upon week, we will be occupied (except for a long beach vacation which cannot come soon enough). We are still relatively new to this city, and I got a little scared when I realized he would be home. All the time. Without the comfort of our old neighborhood, friends, and routine distractions. I did not want him to be bored. I did not want to be lonely. But now, he is nowhere close to bored nor am I lonely. Our summer has already been full and spontaneous and glorious. And now here I sit, jotting ideas about characters, dialogue, and plot. I really, really want to work on this project. Really.
But I can’t.
I know there are parent/writers who rise before dawn and stay up until the wee hours of night just to make time to work and write. I used to be one of those parent/writers. In fact, I wrote whenever I fancied. And I am not afraid to admit that I sometimes did it selfishly. But I do not do that anymore. I cannot do that anymore. If I learned one thing from my bout with cancer (aside from the obvious reminder that life is precious), it was that my time here and now matters. More than ever before, my moments count. And it is because of this unbelievable gift that I no longer work on a major writing project when my son is home for the summer. He is young. School-aged but young enough to still cuddle while watching a movie, young enough to crave the attention of his parents, young enough to enjoy my company. I cannot fritter those moments away. They can never be recovered. Besides, there will come a time (soon, too soon) when he becomes even more independent and drifts to other people and things. I want him to do that – I want to see him thrive and grow into the amazing young man I witness beneath the surface of his goofy grin. But I also want to be here, in this moment, to enjoy the gift of him. If I write during the summer months when he is here with me (all the time), I fear I might miss something. Or possibly nothing. Regardless, I will not miss it. No regrets, I promised once I rose above the cloud of chemotherapy, surgery, and recovery. No regrets.
So as much as I may want to work, I need my moment in the summer sun – with my son – even more…