That Time of Year

Late June and July have historically been dry times for me creatively. It starts slowly. Word counts decrease as distractions creep in. We always have friends come to visit around the 4th of July, and it takes a fair amount of prep to get ready for them. Then there are garden chores, weeds to pull, grass to cut. There are Scottish festivals we attend to represent Clan Campbell. Let’s not forget the Bristol Ren Faire–we have to do that a few times in the short summer months. It’s hard to think past the activity and prep work long enough to concentrate on whatever book I’m working on.

I actually didn’t put it together until yesterday. I was stomping around, irritated because the trash hadn’t taken itself out. I felt generally put out and started thinking about what I need to do to get ready for our friends, and resentment started to creep in. That was the moment I realized I was cranky because I haven’t been getting words like I want to. I’ve been in and out of the garret for a couple weeks, and it’s starting to wear on me, but it seems futile to try to get back into the rhythm when I’m going to have someone sleeping in my office soon.

I’m not sure about the solution, but I know there needs to be one. In the future, I need to try to finish the draft du jour by mid-June so I can pick up after the summer dry spell with a fresh project. I might also need to find another creative outlet for a little while. The best part is guilt about not getting any writing done is conspicuously missing. Well, okay, not entirely. It bugs me a little, but I’m not beating myself up over it. I’m not going to meet my word count goal. There might not be a month-end report this month.

The world will still turn.


Festival Of Nations

We spent the weekend in St. Louis’ Tower Grove Park at the Festival of Nations. This year, one of our Highland Societies set up a Celtic Village hoping that some of the Irish and Welsh communities would come out and play, too. They didn’t, so Eric and I set up the Clan Campbell tent and spent the weekend looking up surnames and telling people which clans to investigate further. The weather was darn near perfect. It could have been ten degrees cooler, but the breeze and shade were enough to keep us from melting!

Clan Campbell tent. The piper is a McDonald, but we let him hang around and play anyway.

Clan Campbell tent. The piper is a McDonald, but we let him hang around and play anyway.













We had athletes competing behind our tents. This is the caber toss. Yes, that's more or less a telephone poll.

We had athletes competing behind our tents. This is the caber toss. Yes, that’s more or less a telephone poll.













I have no idea how many thousands of people came through.

I have no idea how many thousands of people came through to sample foods and shop at booths representing at least 40 different nations from all over the globe. Yeah, we ate well!











Vicky stopped by to visit. That was the icing on the cake! We're always happy to see our baby girl, and although you can see it in this picture, our kilts all match.

Vicky stopped by to visit. That was the icing on the cake! We’re always happy to see our baby girl, and although you can’t see it in this picture, our kilts all match.









Mom called the other day. She needed the web address to my blog because she hadn’t been getting updates. I had to tell her it was me, not her computer.

I realized the other day that I’m dealing with midlife by stretching my comfort zone. Here’s what I’ve been up to lately:

– I’m trying (and re-trying) different forms of exercise. I’ve learned that I still don’t like running, even if it appears to be good for me. Swimming is fine, but I have to remember to push myself. It’s too easy to get into a groove and let my mind wander. Fencing is a lot of fun, but I’ve only just gotten into it.

– I’ve started to learn Gaelic. It’s harder than it looks.

– I’m reading a lot of Celtic fairy tales to build up my story bank while I look for research material to do a series of stories on warrior queens. I’ve haunted the stacks of two different libraries, and I have two more on my radar in my quest for stories and information on Maeve of Connaught and Maccha. I’ve also been assigned Scottish History in general, and the Clan Campbell history specifically, by my bardic mentor. Now that we’re past the first year and I haven’t run screaming for the hills, he’s getting a little more serious about his assignments.

– Writing. Sort of. I got a great rejection from the agent I pitched to in August (you’ve probably seen that on Facebook), and while it was very helpful, it broke my stride. “King Or Country” is a big, steaming mess right now. It’s one-dimensional, the ending is abrupt, and I have no symbols or metaphors, not to mention everyone–Scottish, English or otherwise–sounds the same. I have to edit all of that. It’s hard to keep the big picture in view while writing characters so individual that there is never a doubt as to who is speaking. Fiction is a tough gig, y’all, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. In addition to fixing that train wreck, I have a collection of short stories percolating to be written in November. My hope is to get several done that tie together but can stand alone. When they’re done I’ll send them off into the world (to magazine/e-zines) to earn their keep. Oh, yeah, and I have a couple more novels waiting in the wings. I just have to figure out what I’m doing so I can plot them.

– House stuff. The kids have moved out, and it looks as though Alex has spent his last summer at home, at least if he has his way. We have the green light to do what we want with any room in the house, so we’re fixing up and clearing out, generally making the house “ours,” if that makes any sense at all! I’ve even had to relearn to cook for two. Several times, Vicky has popped in unexpectedly, only to be sent home with enough left-overs to feed herself and her roommates. It’s been an adjustment to streamline our life as a couple again, and sometimes it feels wrong to make plans (even for dinner) without including the kids, but we’re getting through it. I have to keep reminding myself that we had kids young so we could enjoy life after they left!

The result of that detritus is that I’m pecking away at everything and not much is getting done, not the least of which is blogging. In short, I’m overwhelmed. This all started, I think, last February when I went to the Deep Thinkers retreat. I learned so much about writing that I started up a learning curve that’s been like Pike’s Peak, only I keep picking up stuff along the way. The metaphor makes sense if you know me and my propensity to be bass-ackwards. I’m picking up stuff going up instead of rolling down.

It’s funny, when my job ended I was looking forward to having free time. Not working has turned out to be stressful and exhausting! Just know that my long silences are because I’m working on something and I will be back. I’ll try to get back to a regular schedule, but honestly, at this point in my life, I’m not sure that even exists. As always, I’m open to suggestions.