Friday, July 4, 2014

Summertime Authorship: Writing ‘It’ While the Kids Are Home For Summer

Summer.  The kids are off; Mom and Dad are not.   I work in the evenings, so I get to spend time during the day with my children…going swimming, to the movies, bowling, spontaneous trips to Jamba Juice to cool down, ice skating to really cool down, and much more.  Then, I get to trade places with my beautiful bride and go to work…and rest from the fun of the day. 

We are self-aware enough to know that we should take some form of health supplement; and as authors, we are self-aware enough to know that we should be writing a morsel or two every day.  For our creative health, of course.  But how to do it and be the available cool parent? 

Help comes in the form of a silver alloy or aluminum, slender, and petite box.  It’s a digital voice recorder.  Or, many cell phones will work with certain recording apps.  But a small, digital voice recorder is less bulky and fits nicely in a multitude of pockets and places.   When those moments of literary clarity and inspiration erupt from within my mind and soul, there is nothing more convenient for throwing those nuggets into than one of those two little boxes.

I dare not confine my writing to a particular room in my home or a certain time of day.  The flow of inspiration streams all day, every day if we are entitled to have it.  And with few exceptions, we are entitled to have it.  The ‘Master Author’ is looking for any reason to provide those sparks of genius. 

Also, I've discovered that most inspired thoughts come in a multitude of genres.  What I mean is that even though I might want to focus on that ‘great American novel’, I may get a thought about a humor piece for a commercial journal, a method for interviewing someone for a proposed biography, an adventure concept that Deseret Book  or Random House just might go for this time.

So, when I’m in the pool with my daughter, towing her and three friends behind me, and ‘it’ hits about a certain wording for a book review that has been vexing me, I untangle myself from goggles and water wings for 15 seconds and make a short, private recording on my nearby device.  When I’m waiting for the two teen boys to get out of Laser Tag and ‘it’ hits me about how to get around a particular publishing roadblock my sweetie and me have been trying to overcome in order to get her ‘A,B,C’ children’s book picked up, I mutter a few words into the box, greet the boys when they emerge from battling bad guys, and move on to bowling.  When we’re getting shaved ice or smoothies in the mall and ‘it’ hits about what level of self-publishing will be best for that anthology of short stories I’ve been kicking around for a while and why that one book cover will not work, I take a bite of pina colada ice and reach for my phone after giving my daughter a hug and telling her how much I love spending time with her. 

I have found that I can’t remember the ‘it’ moments.  I don’t even bother lying to myself anymore; my memory stinks.  And, I’m rarely prepared enough to have writing materials handy.  A pencil or pen; how gauche.  But I have my little box, and from that I can reignite the inspired flow when my normal kindling is too wet with worldly worries.  And from my little recorded sparks, I can gently blow life into a 10 page novel introduction.  I can fuel my little flame with story boarding, chapter divisions, preparing cover letters, calendaring daily writing slots, and creating my list of ‘review buddies’.   My flame is now a true fire.  I keep feeding it and it returns reciprocating warmth and assurance to me that I’m doing okay at this writing stuff.  I feel peaceful.  I feel hopeful.  All because I obeyed the ‘it’ moments and spoke into my little metal box for a few seconds of my summer day.

I love Summer!  Happy '4th of July'!


  1. Thanks for this Michael! I had been seeing the title of this post in draft form for a few days and I kept thinking, “Yes, how DO I write ‘it’ while the kids are home for summer??” And, oddly enough, I do have a digital voice recorder but I haven’t been using it. Mostly because the sound of my own voice makes me cringe and makes that idea that seemed so good earlier sound idiotic...but perhaps that’s just something I need to get over.

    I had a moment driving home in my car ALONE (rarely ever happens) after a meeting the other night and the words to a poem started to come to me. I could have used it then. Luckily, I was almost home so I rushed in the house and got it onto my computer. And then this morning when I was out running I started rewriting the first chapter of my book...but I made myself stop because I didn’t want to come up with anything too good without having anywhere to record it. LOL!

    Time to dust off my voice recorder... :-)

  2. I'll admit, I've never considered using the voice recorder option on my iPhone before. Oddly, I do use the voice to text option and just email myself notes as they come to me. But more often than not, when I look at the email after I sent it, I have absolutely no idea what I was thinking, let alone what Siri thought I was saying! So this is great advice for me. :-)



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