Posts Tagged ‘end of summer’

Dog Days

We are in the Dog Days of summer here in Pennsylvania — so named because late summer is usually filled with hot and sultry days.   Growing up in a pet filled household, I always thought that the Dog Days were so named because our pets would sulk and mope in the heat.  Nope — there’s a different history to the name — or at least Wikipedia says so!

But the weather has been pleasant and the nights have been cool.  Other people may complain about this weather — but I love it! I’m not a hot weather person at all.

So, it’s that time of year, and I won’t dwell on what I got done and didn’t get done this past summer.  Instead, I’m looking forward to the remaining days of my summer vacation and then, moving on to my Fall Semester.   Besides teaching a course I haven’t taught in over seven years (Newswriting and Editing), I have other projects lined up!  I will be teaching another fiction writing course at our local library, and I also will be giving a brief talk about poetic form to a group of local high school teachers.

And yes, I left a messy office behind in May, so I need to clean and get organized. (Although, anyone who knows me will realize that this organization will last only about a month!)


Revising the Summer

If I could, I would.  Revise this past summer, that is.   In the last month or so, I spent a great deal of time writing, but not writing what I would deem, quality material.   But I also spent a lot of time worrying about not writing quality material.  And that, of course, is a waste of time.

This past week, under the guidance of poets Gabriel Welsch and Ted Kooser (in separate classes), I have learned about the placement of metaphors and the art of the line.  I’ve even had an epiphany or two about my own writing.  Yesterday, when I faced the daunting task of gathering my notes and poetry drafts from the summer, I looked through all my work, and found that my first response was that I was disappointed in myself.  I had wanted to write enough new poems to finish my collection, and that simply did not happen.  

But then I thought a lot about what I have learned, especially this past week — that good writing takes time, and that while it is important to write every day, it’s also important to understand that much of what one writes is not very good.  And that’s okay, too.

I have a new textbook for one of my fall classes.  Included in this textbook is an essay titled “Shitty First Drafts” by Anne Lamott.  Now, I have read this work  before and I thinks it’s hysterical (and true!)  I’m going to use this essay during my first week of classes — I’m eager to see my students’ reactions.  For those of you who don’t know this piece, you can read it here.

Reluctantly, August

Yes, it’s August.  Yes, I know that every year, summer goes by too quickly. Sigh.

With only a few weeks before school starts, I’m scrambling a bit to get ready for the new school year. The building that holds my office at JCC is under construction, so I have been working at home and of course, I’m finding that half the stuff I need to prepare for the new year is in my office.  The office I can’t get to…

 On the poetry front, I have started the new month by doing my least favorite thing about the publishing world: contacting literary journals to see about the status of submissions.  I know editors are busy and I know that most journals are made up of volunteers, but if your  guidelines state that response time is 2 – 4 months, and after 6 months I haven’t heard a peep from you, then you will probably get a note from me, even if it’s to figure out if my submission has been lost in the shuffle.

Still, August has started out on a good note with an acceptance in my inbox.  Now, I want to spend some time working on new poems for fall submissions.  And, by the look of the temperatures outside, I will also be preparing for another heat wave.

A Soggy Sendoff to Summer

I know that summer is not really over yet — but considering that I was in the office most of last week, and I start classes tomorrow, today’s soggy Sunday seems like the end of another summer for me.

But it was a great ending.  I help co-run a writing contest at Chautauqua, and we announced the winners today.  I got to hear poet Ansie Baird and historian Bruce Chadwick read today. (I’m halfway through Chadwick’s book, I Am Murdered — a fascinating account of the historic murder of George Wythe, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and close friend to Thomas Jefferson.  It’s basically a historical True Crime book).  I also got to meet Sherrie Flick, a prose writer and judge for one of our contests.  I have longed for Sherrie’s chapbook of flash fiction I Call This Flirting, and I was able to pick up a copy today — along with her novel, Reconsidering Happiness.

So  tonight I am settling in to read, relax, and listen to the rain.  I’m ready for the school year to begin.  As crazy as the semester is sure to get, I welcome a schedule.  Every summer I find myself drifting away from my writing (for some reason July and August are bad writing months for me.  I work wonders in June).  School always puts me back on track.