Graduations and wedding. Strawberry stands close. Corn on the cob stands open.
June bugs attempt suicide by flying into a patio door. News programs announce grunion runs. Janet Evanovich’s new novel is sure to be on the book store shelf soon. June gloom weather patterns make it impossible to know what to wear each day. Pick shorts and a tee, the clouds never burn off. Jeans and a pullover guarantee it will be ninety by ten fifteen. The significant other always announces that the air conditioner will not be turned on until after the Fourth of July. The kids get out of school.
Ah, no school. For me, that was always both a blessing and a curse. I loved the slower pace of summer days, kids making mud pies, decorating the driveway with sidewalk chalk, back yard sleep–overs, and the wide-eyed wonder of a child blowing bubbles. I was less thrilled with sibling squirt gun fights that degenerated into all out bloody warfare in thirty seconds or less, other parents who assumed that because I was a teacher and therefore home during the summer I would leap at the chance to entertain their little darlings twelve hours a day five days a week for free, and those heartfelt words, “Mom, I’m so bored.”
No school for my kids rarely translated into no other commitments for me. I taught summer school classes, took graduate math classes and always had a novel on which I was working. So how did I carve out time for writing with a job, graduate school, three kids, and a husband who traveled?
First, I insisted both my sons and my daughter did housework. They made their beds. They vacuumed. They washed dishes. They scrubbed toilets. Few of their chores were completed as well as if I had done them myself, but I learned to turn a blind eye to what I didn’t have time to fix and to ignore snippy comments from other adults.
Next, I let my children join inexpensive summer time activities. The PTA arranged a summer movie series for children, a juice-box, a small bag of popcorn and the movie all for a dollar. Park and Recreation always offered swimming lessons, art lessons, piano lessons, gym classes. I traded play days with other mothers. But rather than drop my kids off and return to pick them up, I packed a lawn chair, a clipboard, sun screen and stayed. I graded papers during swim team practice, completed non-Euclidean geometry homework during gym class and edited chapters of my very first book while my kids played in the sand.
I arranged my desk and computer so that I could see the back yard while I worked. If they needed me closer, I handed them their own paper and pencils, pulled chairs up to my desk and had them write with me. I got wild stickers and made a refrigerator chart. They earned a sticker for each book they read and could redeem the chart for a small prize from the junk store. I bought books on tape like Treasure Island, The Hobbit, Tom Sawyer, cheap tape players with head phones and handed them out when I needed quiet time. If I was truly desperate and they were truly bored, I let them watch videos, a huge treat at my house where the TV never turned on unless it was dark outside. I set my alarm for four and wrote all morning, something I still do today even though my children are out of the house and have children of their own.
So if your children are home for the summer, cherish them and those mud pies drying in the sun, but plan on carving out time for your writing. You are creative, and if you really want to write, you will find a way.
Marianne H. Donley makes her home in Tennessee with her husband and son. She is a member of Bethlehem Writers Group, Romance Writers of America, OCC/RWA, and Music City Romance Writers. When Marianne isn’t working on A Slice of Orange, she might be writing short stories, funny romances or quirky murder mysteries, but this could be a rumor.
You can find her short story, Valentine’s Day Rules, in LET IT SNOW.
June’s Featured author is Jina Bacarr
I discovered early on that I inherited the gift of the gab from my large Irish family when I penned a story about a princess who ran away to Paris with her pet turtle Lulu. I was twelve. I grew up listening to their wild, outlandish tales and it was those early years of storytelling that led to my love of history and traveling.
I enjoy writing to classical music with a hot cup of java by my side. I adore dark chocolate truffles, vintage anything, the smell of bread baking and rainy days in museums. I’ve always loved walking through history—from Pompeii to Verdun to Old Paris.
The voices of the past speak to me through carriages with cracked leather seats, stiff ivory-colored crinolines, and worn satin slippers. I’ve always wondered what it was like to walk in those slippers when they were new.
Jina’s newest book is a young adult novel, CRYSTAL GIRL. It was released in May and available on Amazon.