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Summer’s End

I believe this is a hibiscus bush. I just planted it this spring.

Changing Seasons…

Our temperatures here on top of my little mountain in rural Cortland County, New York, dropped into the low forties overnight. Not a frost, not yet. They had warnings two counties east, though. The leaves are changing. Entire hillsides are peppered with early color. It's subtle, as it slowly overtakes the green as if emerging from beneath it. And here and there, a few eager individuals are already crimson or gold or bright orange. Always a few in every crowd way ahead of their time, right?

I've been struggling…

I've been struggling with my storytelling this summer, and I think part of the reason has been all the strife and strain in the news. Every day a new scandal or disaster. My very favorite programs of late, if looked at objectively, are basically saying, “Here are a bunch of things for you to worry about.”

So there's been that. And secondly, I've been struggling to write a story that is not the story I want to be writing right now. I'm passionately burning to write something else. But the something else isn't likely to earn as much, so I'm forcing myself to write the practical thing first, and promising I'll let myself write the fun thing right after. Dangling it like a carrot in front of a mule.

Only my mule is my muse and she's not into carrots. She doesn't like work or vegetables. She likes pure glorious abandon and chocolate.

So I've been having a hard time. I took some time off this summer, thinking it was writers block (and it was some of that) and that down time would help. It did, a little. But not enough.

And the harder it got the harder I tried and you just can't force creativity. And in all that trying, I let some of the most important things slide a bit. But now I feel like I've come through all of that.

Today was a good day…

I think today was a good day because I started it by turning OFF the news. I had turned it on automatically, and quickly realized that was not what my creativity needed. So I turned OFF the TV.

Next, I went outside and meditated near the waterfall.

When I came back in I went straight to my desk with no side journeys, turned on the under-desk treadmill, opened the book file where I'd left off, and and just wrote the way I used to, on autopilot. In 1 hour I had 1500 words on the book I don't feel like writing right now. And they were good words. Good scenes, that are leading me right where the story needs to go.

After that, it wasn't even lunch time yet! So I started plotting the next Brown and de Luca story, LITTLE GIRL BLUE. This is the very next thing I'll be writing, beginning in October. I'll also be fleshing out THE ONE WHO CRIED WOLF, which was last year's newsletter serial story, also a Brown and de Luca tale. I plan to publish them both by Valentine's day.

My water hyacinths took OFF. Look for the purple blossoms among them.

The plotting went really well. I sat down to begin and it came through in Rachel's voice, in the first-person, just the way the books do. The first line was “Well, it's about BLEEPing time. I've been waiting for BLEEPing EV-er!”

So I think it's safe to say she hasn't deserted me. She's been right there waiting.

I got the setup and opening scenes and I know about the crime and who did it. I know where everyone else in the story is and what they're up to. Next, it'll be the hard part, the mystery part, the clues, the red herrings, the villains and the suspects who aren't villains, and how my favorite sleuth puts it all together, and how the entire thing tangles itself up in her relationship with Mason and how it moves them forward.

I love storytelling…

I'm so excited to be in the beginning phases of this one. It's going to be hard to finish the one I'm “supposed” to be writing first, but on the other hand, if I can do my daily pages in an hour, I think I'll manage.

After my plotting session, Lance and I went to our favorite place for lunch, Bob's Barbecue in nearby Homer. We took all the dogs with us, and got extra so we could give them a some nibbles. At Bob's, you get your food and take it to a picnic table situated on their lawn, which is a giant botanical garden. Islands of trees, shrubs and flowers of all sorts fill the entire place. I'm planning to petition them to make signs with the names of all the plants on them, because I need to know. They are inspiring my back yard plans!

It was warm and sunny, everything's in blossom, the food was delicious, and we even got chocolate cake to bring home for later munching. And I laughed and laughed at myself when we got our food, I told the server, “Only one scoop of macaroni salad.” And “I'll take a diet Snapple with that.” And then said, “Oh, and I need a piece of that chocolate cake!” Logical? Who cares?

I was laughing and making lame jokes the whole time we enjoyed our meal. Lance said, “This is great. Last time we were here you spent the whole time hating racism.” He's right, I was. I am so intolerant of intolerance.

Which is like saying everybody should think like I do so I can feel better. Never gonna happen. I've got to be able to feel good anyway. We all do. That's been my lesson of the summer, right there.

Getting Choosy…

We can feel good because we choose to, not based on anything that's going on outside us. Master that, and happiness is our constant state of being. Our default setting. That's so vital.

I'm usually good at that. I got thrown off my game a bit this summer, but that's okay too. I'll be wiser and happier as I get through this.

After lunch we headed over to Bill Anderson's Farm Market and stocked up on fresh fruits and veggies, homemade cookies, the best cheese this side of Wisconsin, and some locally raised meats. We buy almost no groceries at the grocery store anymore. This is so healthy and good. They also have glorious gigantic pots of mums in fall colors. I didn't get them today because the dogs were taking up all the room in the car, but I'll get back for them soon. If not they'll be gone.

And then we headed home, and I'm writing this update for you and feeling better than I have in several weeks. And I think I'm going to be okay now. Here's my plan to make sure of it.

  1. I think I'm going to try to leave the news off for at least a week, and see how I feel.

  2. I'm going re-commit to that 15 minutes of meditation in every morning.

  3. I'm going to try to make it to all my grandson's upcoming soccer games. It's his senior year and besides, it's blissful outdoors right now.

  4. I'm going to drink more water.

  5. I'm going to spend more time outside in this most glorious time of year as summer morphs into fall.

  6. I'm going to nurture myself the way I would nurture a child or pet whose been feeling less than 100%.

  7. I'm going to re-dedicate myself to paying more attention to what's going right in life, and in the world, than to what's going wrong. There's so much more good stuff than bad, after all.

So that's the plan. I can contribute to hurricane relief without watching an endless loop of the devastation on CNN. I can spread love and joy without picking fights with every ignorant racist on the internet. I can do more good from a place of peace and well being than I ever could from a place of upset and distress.

Maybe some of you have been feeling some of the same things. If so, I hope this helped a little bit.

Enjoy the waning days of summer. I hope you find lots of things to smile about.

Here's a short video of the waterfall. I haven't posted one recently and the plants have filled in really nicely.


IMG_6896.MOV  <– just click the link. 🙂

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