As the End of the Summer Approaches …

I can feel the end of the summer. The County Fair is over, the weather is boiling, and I’ve done all my digital setup for the fall semester. I always do it early, according to my Facebook posts from years past, mostly to prepare myself for the fact that my days will be fuller and more carefree, and there will not be nearly as much free time to write.

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School starts August 17, less than a month from now. Meetings start a week before that, and there will (hopefully) be a beginning-of-semester cookout for faculty and staff which represents the beginning of the semester more than any ritual could.

What have I accomplished? I’m a quarter of the way through one book, an eighth of the way through another, and I don’t know which one to write. I have finalized It Takes Two to Kringle, which is waiting only for some last minute putting together before I submit it to Kindle. I have edited an old but (in my opinion) outstanding book called Prodigies, which I hope to send off to agents soon. I neglected my garden again. I relaxed.

Life is good and I passed through the summer doldrums without much damage. Soon I will go through the beginning of semester highs (If this sounds like bipolar, it is, sort of). But it’s my cycle of the year and I will do my best to meet it.

After a Hiatus

I’ve been fine …

I’ve just been very busy. That’s something built in to the month of April at a university — finishing class instruction, grading end-of-semester assignments, shepherding interns through the search and sign-up processes. And then there are the plants and the gardens. I think I have over-committed, but as always, it’s how I roll.

Feeling the breezes of Spring

This is the first Spring semester I can say has flown by quickly, even though we had inconvenient snowfall through March and even into April. Today the apple blossoms sway outside my office window and my youngest cat, Chloe, stares out.

Chloe turns 1 today, so perhaps she’s celebrating.

I’ll be celebrating soon. By the end of the week, I will be in full summer mode, where I have about 1/4 of the work I normally have, with a largely open schedule for three months. This means time to blog, to organize my thoughts, and to get past thinking about writing into actually writing.

Winter is behind me. Time to enjoy.

The Beginning of the Semester Looms

Friday is zero hour, the beginning of semester meetings. I’ll sit through a couple days of meetings and then classes start.

This summer emptied out into the flattest vista of grey, and I curled up in it. I know this has been the most restful summer I’ve had, and that if I’m not rested up for the fall, I’ll never be.

This is NOT me.
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I still don’t know if I’m ready for the semester to start. I don’t know if I’m ready for the color and the cacophony of all the college students yet, the part of my life where I stand in front of a class and try to make the subject’s information real, the part where I unleash my odd sense of humor to help capture my students. I have forgotten that “professor” is one of my roles.

But this happens at the end of every summer, and the transition is made easier by the rituals of beginning: The all-employee picnic. The all-staff and faculty meetings. The greeting of new students. The cleaning of my office.

I’m ready. As ready as I’ll ever get. Bring on the cacophony.

This Summer

I’m going to need to find something to do soon.

This summer has been a strange one. I’m largely staying at home as I did during pandemic times, and I’ve spent a lot of time working on projects.

I’m running out of projects.

I’ve prepped my classes for Fall semester, that time of year that comes in a month and a half. I’ll win NaNo today and finish Kel and Brother Coyote in 3 days. Proofing it will take a few more days and then I’ve run out of things to do.

This is even with afternoon naps every day.

Things I could do

I could, I suppose, finish Voyageurs, which is the thing I least want to do. I feel like I’ve lost the plot on that one. Literally lost. the. plot. I don’t feel like the second half goes with the first half. I don’t want the second half to go that long. I don’t — I’m whining.

I could start a new novel. It’s not that I don’t have ideas sitting on the drawing board.

I could concentrate on short stories and poems — I wrote what I think is a solid poem the other day. I might have gotten the knack back.

I could, I suppose, just nap some more.

I do, it turns out, have about three doctors’ appointments in the next two weeks, so maybe I’ll just get the stress cardiogram, the psychiatrist visit, and the setup for my cataract surgeries dealt with.

Or have fun and talk my husband into another writers’ retreat.

The luxury of choice

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I’ve come off as very privileged right now. Think about it — most people have 9-5 jobs and maybe two weeks vacation. My husband works part time and has, at best, four-day weekends. No paid vacation. I have, more or less, a whole summer to do my internship supervision and, it turns out, enjoy free time.

This fall, I won’t have choices. I will have a solid semester with no vacation (except a couple three-day weekends and a week at Thanksgiving, so I shouldn’t complain). Semesters are pretty intense, so I will welcome the breaks. But I don’t have the flexibility I have in summer.

Still I have more freedom than most people do, and it makes up for the pretty slim pay. (Almost).

I guess today I will be grateful for my summer schedule and find a time to enjoy just being off work.

Today I Will Do Nothing

A productive day yesterday

Yesterday I had a very productive day. I brainstormed two short story plots, a novella plot, realized that I might have another novella plot, considered the half-novel’s other half, and generally had fun brainstorming.

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I think I have work to last me the entire summer and then some. Add that to sending out Gaia’s Hands to beta readers and eventually publish it on Amazon … it’s going to be a busy summer.

And today — nothing

Today I want to do nothing. Listen to my favorite music (Singer-songwriter music — can you tell I’m a Boomer?) and lie on the couch talking to my husband.

Not likely to happen

I know myself well enough right now that nothing is not likely to happen (pardon the double-negative). I was made for motion, and there’s a computer to tempt me into some sort of work.

I get my naps in the afternoon, and that’s enough for me to rest my mind and go on to the next thing.

What are you up to?

What are you doing this weekend? Let me know in the comments!

The Beginning of Summer

Or so I hope

Today the grades go in at 10 AM, but my grades are in already. It’s officially summer. Even though the high today is only 62. It’s not like I want weather in the 90s, but 70s at least. Jumping in a swimming pool without turning into a block of ice weather.

After what was the hardest school year of my life (other than the one where I ended up in the hospital I guess) I’m free. Interns are really schedulable.

What I wish for this summer:

  • A spa weekend at the Elms (scheduled for the end of the month)
  • Lots of productive writing
  • Afternoon naps (as needed)
  • Someone lending me a camper so I can do a writing retreat at Mozingo Lake (wishful thinking!)
  • Getting back into walking, a little at a time
  • Figuring out how to promote my writing.
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A wish to a goal

What I have to do now is turn my wishes to goals. I think the best thing to do is make them into goals, looking at whether I have the resources to fulfill them (goodbye camper; I don’t have the social capital to get that for free) I think I need to have some long-term goals to wrap the daily goals in. But right now I don’t feel much like that, because it’s my break and I really need to take that nap now.


My summer is about to begin

The only thing standing between me and summer is one final due today at noon. All I have to do is grade it, turn the grades in, and I am done with this school year.

The trouble with free time

What do I have planned? Not enough. I have sixteen interns to supervise over the summer, and I have a lot of time to do things. But the problem with a lot of time to do things is that it’s too easy to do nothing. The old saying is that work expands to fill the time. My experience is the opposite: Nothing expands to fill the time. I watch reruns on my computer, surf for hours, and engage in ‘horizontal snoring meditation’ (i.e. naps).

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The best use of my time

This is a question I’m going to keep asking myself over the summer — “Is this the best use of my time”? This question, if I’m being honest with myself, is the best motivator. Sometimes horizontal snoring meditation is the best use of my time; other times, it’s a waste. Many times, writing or the like will be the best use of my time. But this should keep me from too much dawdling.

Setting goals

I need to set some goals for the summer. Goals should be SMART. Which means:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Action Oriented
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Goals help motivation by giving focus and standards and deadlines. I have not made my goals SMART yet, but here’s the beginning:

  • I will work on writing/plotting at least 2 hours a day
  • I will finish a short story or poem once a week

These may be overly ambitious, but I need to push myself or else I will get sucked into the void.

My work cut out for me

If I can stick with the goals (and if they’re realistic) I should have a fruitful summer. We shall see.

The Longest School Year Ever

Why has this been the longest school year?

A full year with COVID. Teaching live and on Zoom simultaneously. Being constrained in teaching because I’m tethered to a camera. Students going on quarantine or isolation. Disinfecting all surfaces in the classroom. No Spring Break. Distance. Just so much distance. Constant stress — Am I the next victim? Is my husband? Will we survive COVID?

What are my summer plans?

Interns and writing. And probably some research setup. Hopefully a writing retreat or two. It’s going to be one of the more relaxing summers I’ve had because I won’t be taking a summer class toward my certificate in disaster mental health. I may not know what to do with all my free time. I have a short story collection to finish (not knowing how many more episodes to write) and I may play more with short story ideas. I have too many novels sitting in my lap to write another one for a while. (Gaia’s Hands, Apocalypse, Reclaiming the Balance, Whose Hearts are Mountains, Prodigies, The Kringle Conspiracy, and Kringle in the Night — I guess that’s 7.) Maybe try to get more published.

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What do you think I should do this summer?

I need some ideas — weird or no — of what I should be doing this summer. Please make suggestions in comments!

Days Pass Slowly

One day feels much like another lately; the heat keeps me from doing much outside and nothing’s going on inside. I’m waiting to hear from an agent, a publisher, and a journal, and that status doesn’t seem like it will ever change. I don’t feel very inspired or very optimistic, so I feel little drive to write or revise. 

Times like these, I try to cling onto the belief that I’m a writer. I dream of being published, at least in part because I fantasize about being able to say “Hey, I’m a published author!” The likely reaction from people will be an anticlimactic, “That’s nice.” But it’s a little kid fantasy, an “I’ll show you!” Not very impressive.

Maybe this lapse in writing is good for me, although it does feel like an eroding of my identity. (Why my identity as a professor is not enough puzzles me, but there it is.) 

So I wait for something to happen.

Summer’s End

My summer’s winding down. This might be the reason I feel so lazy right now, knowing that in less than a month I will be back to work. 

I work as an associate professor at Northwest Missouri State University. I don’t know how professors are regarded in Europe (where some of my more regular readers reside), but in the US they’re widely regarded as suspicious characters who subject their students to arcane knowledge such as how to think critically and use unbiased data to draw conclusions from. 

I have one last hurrah before I go back to work (which has the added bonus of keeping me out of beginning of semester meetings) — my annual gig at New York Hope moulaging. This also includes train travel with a sleeper car and hanging out to write in the Metropolitan Lounge in Chicago’s Union Station (waiting for my connector train). 

But I have a couple weeks before then, working on classes before the semester starts and writing (I need motivation!) and resting before things get crazy.