I woke up Tuesday morning to fog, a surprise, since it was the last day of August in California, still summer as far as I was concerned. At first I panicked, thought there was a fire nearby and that we were surrounded by a huge cloud of smoke. But that idea fizzled quickly enough. No campfire smell. One always smells a fire first.
Next came the thought. What if it's "an airborne toxic event" like in Don DeLillos White Noise, a Union Carbide disaster right here in my own backyard? But after cracking the door open and taking a quick whiff, I knew there was nothing foreign in the air. This was fog, pure and simple.
And that brought on a new thought. Summer was almost over, the summer that never was. Only six days of hundred degree weather, thirteen in the upper 90's, eighteen in the low 90's, the rest, 80's and below. Heck, in California, that's called spring. Even our wimpy corn crop could attest to that. The stalks hadn't even tasseled yet and the ears...well, they were certainly nothing to brag about.
Anyway, like it or not, it's almost fall, harvest time, falling leaves time. Summer's power (stinted though it was) has passed. It's a time to reap what we've sown, not only on the farm, but also within. Speaking of which:
In July, I started a blog as part of my journey to publication. Blogging is hard. It takes guts and determination and plan old hard work. The reward? Only time will tell. That's how it is with writing. The rewards are often internal and hard to pin down. Yet here I am writing a blog and sharing it with the world, which is saying a lot for someone who prefers the security of the little box I've created for myself, knowing where all the edges are, creating more of what I've already created: four novels, over ten years, behind closed doors.
I read an article recently called Earth School is Open, Are Our Minds? by Dennis Merrit Jones (Science of Mind, September 2010). In it he says,"The rut is a grave. Grow or die." Which brings me back to end of summer, a good time for writers to ask themselves some of the same questions farmers do when facing the bounty of their summer labors.
- Did I till the ground properly? Did I break through the hard-pan of resistance and open my mind to new possibilities (like starting a blog, for instance)?
- Did I apply enough fertilizer? Did I read books on craft, take writing courses, attend seminars?
- Did I select the right seeds for the climate and soil? Did I try different forms of creative writing, such as poetry, memoir, essays, short stories, essays, and novels, to expand my repertoire of possibilities?
- Did I provide enough water? Did I read other writers' work, join a critique group, attend a open-mike reading, or go to a writer's conference?
- Did I control the weeds? Did I review, edit, cut, and forestall negative thinking?
Something to remember. Farmers never give up. Their harvest can be meager, due to factors beyond their control (such as wimpy California weather), but they gather in what they've got and then start all over again, sow, reap, sow, reap, always hoping for that bounty harvest.
Something to think about as summer turns to fall.