Wednesday, August 3, 2016

ISWG: To Write in Summer

Two summers ago, my boys were gone for two weeks—one week at camp and one week at grandma’s. I had just received a revise and resubmit. I put in at least forty hours those weeks, and  when my kids were home, I put in many hours a day writing, a record for me. At the end of the summer, though I hadn’t enjoyed my summer much, I finished the R/R. Then I sent it out to betas and learned it was not as ready as I thought. In fact, I had a ton of work left to do. And to think—I had spent almost every minute of that summer writing!

Last summer I had different goals. I made it a goal to do something with my kids each day. I devoted 1-2 hours a day to my writing. I was working on a different project. (In a final touch of irony, the agent who requested the R/R left the business!) At the end of the summer, I hadn’t finished those revisions, but I enjoyed my summer, creating good memories with my kids.

Fast forward to now. I’m doing the same thing. I'm devoting 1-2 hours a day to my writing most days. I am finding that more than that does not accomplish as much.

See, the thing is I won’t get to be a hands-on mom for too many more years. This summer, my oldest turned 14. When I look back over all the time I’ve been writing seriously, I don’t regret the times not spent writing, but I do regret the times I made writing my sole purpose, the big number one in my life to the exclusion of all things. It didn’t make me happy or my family happy. Someday every week, every month will be like those two weeks they were away. I might be able to author full time, 40 hours a week if I wish. Though I don’t think I will. I love to write—don’t get me wrong—but when I do it full time, the other parts of myself, the part that likes to bake or knit or play in the woods, starts to atrophy. And what would I have to write about if the rest of me—the part the gives me all my ideas—starts to die?

So, yes, now that August is here, I’m a little sad. Only one month left of lazy summer days. Of having more time to write, to think, to be. But at least I don’t have the regret of watching a summer pass and not really sucking the marrow out of it. I am glad of that.

August 3rd question: What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published?

If I don't count "I Am a Queen" and "The Nativity Story" (age 6), my first work is a middle grade novel fantasy set on the San Juan Islands. It's still a story close to my heart, but it would need a lot of work to be ready to submit. I did pitch it several years ago and it got some requests, but I haven't done much with it since. So it's definitely collecting dust.

What is your first piece of writing? Is it easier for you to write in summer or at other times of the year?


  1. Hi Jenni,
    I am not a mom but I understand your not writing 24/7 because I don't do that either. Besides writing, I love music and I play and sing in a band of people that are so great that I enjoy the time I have with them because I know one day it will end.
    I can write any ime. It is not dependent upon the season of the year but I do write better at night and early morning.
    All the best.
    Shalom aleichem,

  2. I'm right there with you. My oldest is 15 and although I don't get as much done as I'd like, I do my best work when I'm being a good mom. Here's to us!

  3. My first piece of writing languishes on a flash drive. It was...not good. =) And enjoying other aspects of life are definitely beneficial to our writing side.

  4. Good for you for figuring out what works best for you and your writing. For me, summer is about hunkering down, tucked inside with the a/c on, trying to get things done. Can't wait for the cooler weather! :)

  5. I can totally relate to your new schedule of writing. You and your family come first... as they can help inspire you. We all need R & R too. My children are grown, but now I'm caregiving for my husband. I'm exhausted... so finding time to write is harder. But he is slowly getting better.

  6. I have to write all year round. I may take a break here and there, but I need to write to keep my sanity. i'll be doing serious writing this weekend and hope to pump out 10,000 words.

    Stephen Tremp
    IWSG Co-Host August 2016

  7. When the time's right, you can always go back to that story.
    We might enjoy writing, but sacrificing all time with family and friends isn't worth it. Those people might not be around to celebrate with you when you're done.

  8. Family and friends are far more important than anything else. We also need them for inspiration so we can write. We need to live.

  9. Life is about balance, whatever your goals. And if all you ever did was write, where would you find your inspiration?

  10. Even with running a publishing company and everything else I do to make money, I still make time for my husband and friends. The things I do with them I'll remember - sitting for hours in front of my computer, I won't.

  11. You do have to enjoy time with your kids while they are young. Too soon it won't be cool to hang out with mom. Sounds like you found a good balance.

  12. I'm a teacher, so my summer writing time is like three times as productive as school year. This year, I had one kidless week due to a confluence of visits and that was a great week. I'd be sad, though, to make that the whole summer. I need time at the park and library and beach with my kids, too.

    @mirymom1 from
    Balancing Act

  13. It's important to spend time with your kids. They don't stay young forever. We writers need our downtime too. Sometimes that's when we get our best ideas. :)

  14. There are definitely days when it's better to have a two hour unplanned hang-out time with my kids than to write for that same time. As long as I get 15 minutes in every day, and around 7 hours a week total, I get enough writing time in and I get to spend precious time with my family.

  15. I miss certain hobbies that I've neglected because of all the writing I'm doing.

    Parent and child time is important. You're doing the right thing.

  16. Finding that balance is so important. If I don't write at all I get cranky with my nine year old son. If I write too much I get cranky with myself and the writing suffers also! We definitely need opportunities to "fill the well" as Julia Cameron encourages. I'm glad to hear you spent more time with your kids this summer!