week of writing, take 2

July 16, 2009

Hard as it is for me to believe, it’s been almost a year since I started this blog. I got it up and running last July, when all three of my kids were at various sleepover camps or daycamps for a week. I called it my week of “writing” because although I’d hoped to write a lot that week, that’s not what happened. Instead I discovered how utterly complicated it is to start up a self-hosted blog.

So I’m trying again. Having a week to write is a bit paralyzing. Where to start? What to work on? I have a handful of essays that I need to throw back out to the rejection merry-go-round. Those need cover letters, as well as rewriting and re-formatting, depending on the publication. It’s time-consuming. I have an essay I’ve been working on, about helping H with his junior term paper for English, that I’d like to finish. I have my workshop to prepare for the HSC homeschooling conference in Sacramento in August. And while that isn’t writing, per se, the topic of the workshop, Nurturing Young Writers, is just what I’m focusing on with my book idea.

A few of you have asked me about that book. I haven’t gotten to the actual writing yet, but I’ve been taking pages and pages of notes, and playing with ideas for format. It’s a writing conundrum: you don’t want to start before you have an idea where you’re going, but you don’t want to wait too long to start either, because so much unfolds during the writing process. 

I’m also considering how I might share bits of book draft here with you, as I work on it. When I’ve written here about my kids’ experiences with writing and reading, I’ve gotten the most interesting, curious, discussion-provoking comments. It seems that many of you like to discuss this stuff! 

In the meanwhile, I’m here alone, writing. Which is unthinkably wonderful. But I do miss my kids.

Mr. T is attending a day camp this week, up in the redwoods. It’s an old-fashioned hike, build-stick-forts, and sing-camp-songs kind of camp, not one of those schoolish-classes-held-in-the-summer-months-under-the-guise-of-a-camp kind of camps. He comes home looking like this:

tired and dirty--guess he had fun!

Tired and dirty. Which is a good day of camp, in my book.

Lulu is at a sleep-away camp with her cousin for a week. I miss her every morning when I don’t get my usual good morning, Mama hug, and when the kitchen is quiet because she isn’t following me around, telling me her plans a handful of times each day. But we’ll be picking her up on Saturday. Not too far off.

H, though. He’s gone for a month. How did I agree to that? On Saturday, Chris and I drove him down to southern California, to Cal Arts in Valencia. He’s attending Inner Spark, which is a summer school for the arts, for high-school-aged kids. He got accepted into the film program, and it seems like an incredible opportunity. Which, of course, is why I agreed to let them have my kid for a month. (If you live in California, and have a teen especially interested in the arts–music, theater, dance, creative writing, visual arts, animation or filmmaking–do check out the program. It’s partially funded by the state of California, so the tuition is reasonable, and what they offer seems quite amazing. I’ll have to share some of H’s experiences here in another post. A friend of a friend whose daughters attended said it “changed their lives.”)

Knowing H will be gone so long makes me miss him so much it hurts. And I mean that literally. When I walk by his room I feel a small hollowness inside. It’s especially hard because this seems like a trial run for a little more than a year from now, when he’ll be leaving for college. How did his childhood go so fast?

I suppose the hollow feeling comes from part of my heart being in Valencia.

But in the meanwhile, we can talk on the phone, and email, and we’ve even set up Skype for videochats, so his little brother can grace him with goofy faces. And in between, I’m here alone, writing. Which reminds me that I should sign off now, and get to some of those plans…

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

susan July 17, 2009 at 6:59 am

Almost a year! Mr. T, does indeed look as if he’s going to the right kind of camp. I wish you a productive last day of your week of writing. I’ve got my week of writing next week. Similar setup, two kids in sleepaway camp, one at day camp. I’m going to dust off my novel and see what kind of progress I can make…maybe enough to keep the momentum when the week is over. I wish I were going to the HSC conference and could take your workshop.

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patricia July 17, 2009 at 5:31 pm

Oh, I’m so excited for you! I hope it’s a very productive week!

I’ve so enjoyed my week this year. I’ve surprised myself with how long I’m actually able to sit and write–I worked consistently for a good four hours yesterday–and it was so invigorating! It’s fun to consider that *someday* I might be able to spend my days writing. I know it’s not a life that most people would relish, but I would.

I will probably buy the audio recording of my workshop, simply because listening to myself would surely be instructive. *If* I can bring myself to actually listen. I have the CD from last year, and I haven’t listened yet, but I really ought to. To see how many times I said, “um”, so I can try to do better this time. Anyway, unless I completely embarrass myself, I’ll be happy to loan you the CD from this year, if you’re really interested.

Wishing you good progress on your novel next week!

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Abi July 19, 2009 at 7:46 am

I cannot yet imagine my kids old enough to send them away anywhere… okay, maybe to a grandparent’s house… or to Auntie Em’s (yeah, she’d go crazy with my three and her one).

Did you know I’m down here in the Valencia area? If you get the urge to squeeze two cute little babies when you come down to pick up your big guy, let me know. I’m about 15 minutes from CalArts.

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patricia July 20, 2009 at 7:19 am

Hi Abi! So nice to see you here!

And congratulations on those two beautiful babies!

Yes, I remember those days of feeling completely tethered. And I’m sure that with twins it’s even harder, because you worry that they’re too much to hand off to others. But if you get up here and leave them with Auntie Em, Lulu and I can help! R loves Lulu! Do it!

I had no idea you lived near Valencia. Unfortunately H is flying home, so we won’t be back down. So you’ll just have to get those babies up here so I can get a squeeze. I’m sure that traveling with tiny twins + big brother is no big deal!

Thanks for stopping bye and saying hello!

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Kristin July 19, 2009 at 9:17 am

No make-up artist could recreate a dirty face as well as a day at Touch the Earth can. T’s blue eyes are gorgeous.

It’s good that you have so many writing options to focus on, but I can see how beginning might be a bit daunting.

Luckily you are no procrastinator–at least it doesn’t seem like you are.

Enjoy your time! I’m sure your kids are enjoying theirs.

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patricia July 20, 2009 at 7:22 am

About that face–he managed to come home with the same dirty face five days in a row. There were a lot of showers and baths around here last week.

The week was good. Got a lot done.

Hope you got lots of honey!

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