Friday, June 18, 2010


It is summer in Maine and I have grand plans to get through another revision of my novel. But with summer, comes a whole slew of distractions.

There is, of course the garden. I am not a gardener like some of my esteemed Hamline colleagues, and sad to say I have neglected my tiny plot for the past two years, so that means it needs extra attention now.

Then, there are the sun-dappled mornings when walk my dog on the beach for, oh, at least an hour while we romp and chase seagulls and watch the fishing boats set out. When I get back home the sun is in the perfect spot to sit outside in my new Adarondack chair, which is perfect for napping while drinking my second cup of coffee. Or for reading, which counts as work, right?

Finally I go inside to begin my writing day. The windows are open and the along with the sweet breeze, the incessant sound of construction—hammers, table saws, jack hammers, weed wackers, bad radio—blows in. After all, summer in the north coincides with construction season. I close the windows but still the jackhammer pounds through, breaking all chance of concentration. Better to hop on my bike and go somewhere else to work, like a café or the park. I have to stop at the bookstore where I linger for hours chatting with the owners. That’s kind of like work, isn’t it? By that time the café is only good for more coffee.By the time I get home I am exhausted. There is a momentary lull in construction so I must get a nap in pronto!

It is evening already and the dog is looking at me longingly—the beach is open to dogs again so we have to go. There we run into friends, so lingering til sunset is a must. After all, it is summer in Maine and these days are precious. There’s no guarantee it will be sunny or warm tomorrow. And if it’s not, I will work, I promise. Oh, but wait there is all that company. Every summer weekend is booked with out-of-towners. Boston friends can be here in two hours, and they have a canoe and are going out on the Androscoggin River rain or no—so I have to join them.

Give me a frigid, blowing blizzard and I’ll write an entire draft in a week! Summer, discipline goes right out the window. Good thing it only lasts less a few weeks. But then, there is that brilliant New England autumn…. Sigh.


  1. Dang, girl, you sound just like me. (Every time I show up here, I'm procrastinating ... hm.)

    What's funny is that I was getting ready to fire a question at the Administrator of this board saying "How do you keep yourself from being so distracted all the time?!" I have all this writing stuff I need to get finished before July 9 but instead I am messing around. Though Lisa, your messing around is much funner than mine. (I'm at work. Shh! Don't tell anyone.)

  2. Melinda, I have come to trust that I will write, that in fact I DO write, even when I think I don't. Somehow, I get it done.
    When I am actually writing I am totally unaware of time or anything else, so it doesn't feel like work or even like time is passing. But when I walk or swim or whatever I do to procrastinate I am painfully aware that I am NOT writing and that time is fleeting.
    You'll write something because you have to by July 9 and that's that. And it will be as good as you can make it!

  3. Noooooooo! Somebody crack a whip! :)

    I hear what you're saying, though. I have a couple of really cool stories that I keep thinking about, and after a period of thinking the writing comes along nicely, and I like that very much.

    What me and my blue-collar muse are worried about is this stack of freelance assignments I need to get done. The deadlines are pretty open, and the sense of urgency I felt in weeks past has passed. I seem to cycle from productive periods into really unproductive periods, and so here I am, procrastinating when I should be working on an email about Chaste Tree, aka Vitex agnus-castus 'Montrose.'

    So, let's see if I've shamed myself sufficiently to get that puppy done. ...though I have worked on some of the new workshop pieces this morning, and that was nice. But I let my priorities get out of whack and I'd like to whack them back into shape.

  4. Lisa, I so loved this post. Having had you as an advisor, what I learned most from you--and one of the things I truly admire about you--is work ethic: Having the right attitude about work, feeding myself the right thoughts, persisting when I soooo wanted to give up. You taught me to put on my running shoes and at least walk--both literally and metaphorically. The physical exercise drives the mental work of writing.

    I'm glad you are allowing your self the freedom to enjoy your stay in Maine. You know it will all feed and inform your story when you sit back down to write. And you know you will write, because you're you and it's what you do best. And it's what you need to do to connect with the world and live life to it's fullest.

    Enjoy you summer in Maine, dear mentor and friend.

  5. Thanks Danette, that is very kind of you to say. And, yes, it is true that writers will write, no matter what. Every writer is unique not only in what they say but how they do it...