It’s Lùnastal, also known as Lughnasadh and several other names including the first of August. Lùnastal is among other things a harvest festival; a time to celebrate the first fruits of summer and to anticipate the bounty of the harvest season. This seems a good time to reflect on the things I have accomplished, or not accomplished, so far this summer.
Confession time. Summer is more than half over, and since my kids said goodbye to elementary school in June, I have not finished a single story. I foolishly (or responsibly – my POV changes) scheduled summer activities that meet my children’s needs instead of my own. After all, being a parent is my day job and writing is my hobby.
Our summer started with the biennial Slighe nan Gaidheal 2012 Seattle Fèis. I reprised my 2010 committee role as registration manager on top of my newish role as Slighe Treasurer. It was a truly wonderful experience and because of the hard work and dedication of many people, especially event chairs Seumas Gagne and Kate Freeburg, a tremendous success. But until recently I was utterly burnt out.
What have I been doing to improve my writing, when I can’t get more than ten or fifteen minutes in a row of quiet writing time? I have been reading. Pretty much any writing instructor or author will tell you that reading in the genre you’re writing is essential, and I have definitely found that to be true. Before I started trying to write short stories, I hadn’t actually read many short stories. (Charles de Lint’s short stories are the exception; I’ve been reading both his novel-length and short fiction for a long time.) So I’ve been reading short stories from online speculative fiction eMags. I just finished a collection of Connie Willis’ short fiction, and yesterday I bought a Steampunk anthology edited by Sean Wallace.
I could also claim to have writer’s block, except that would be a lie. What I have is more like writer’s ADHD. I start reworking a story that’s been languishing in the first-draft stage, and then I get distracted by a new idea. I take a break to write down the idea (either for a new story or some aspect of an in-progress story) and tell myself I just need to make sure I don’t forget it. The next thing I know, I’m writing that new/other story. Until the next distraction!
Speaking of writing distractions, I will add world building to my list. I have been developing ideas I have for a novel that will take place on another planet. Creating that world is both daunting and exciting; and of course fun! The dominant sentient species there is human. How did they get there? What happened to the original alien inhabitants? What are the origins of the two main religions, and how have they deviated from their founder’s intentions? How have the cultures and religions been affected by the environment? It’s a bit like playing god (or goddess in my case;-)