As the school year ends, summer’s long days rush at me — in freedom, yes. Yet the value of my summers off (in addition to spending time with my boys) is the time it affords me for novel revisions.
Are You In or Out?
Both of the novel manuscripts I’ve been working on involve people out in the world.
In Breathing Water, the main character moves all through vibrant scenes from her mother’s house along the Miami River to art galleries throughout Miami to an illicit trip to Cuba to recover threads from her mother’s past. The characters in Wake are on the run through the Irish countryside. I’ve written stories where the main character works charter sailboats, or is the marketing writer for a corporation expanded into India.
My stories move. They travel. The world passes through their fingers.
They don’t happen on the couch in my living room or sitting here at the keyboard.
But that is the irony of the long hours it takes to write and revise a novel: no matter the life and adventure and other world the story captures, so much of that has to be created by a writer trapped at a keyboard indoors. Sure, we can all snag some laptop hours on vacation or mobile work from wherever we might be. Still, hundreds of hours get logged at a keyboard far from the action.
I am ready for that this month. I’ve spent the past two months out in the world — in classrooms with students, on an extended history tour of St. Augustine, at beach parties, at an amusement park… I’ve spent so much time “out there” interacting with people and other places that I genuinely crave uninterrupted hours to disappear back into the work on my novel that has been relegated to 15 minute blocks here and there in the past 2 months.
So no complaints about the work ahead.
Where Inspiration Lies
But a piece in the New York Times got to me yesterday, as a fabulous reminder of what it is to be an artist (amateur tinkerer or pro, in whatever medium) out interacting in the world.
Each year in June, the group Sing for Hope installs 88 pianos into public spaces throughout New York City — there for the sole purpose to be played by anyone who happens by. Each of the pianos is painted or decked out by artists and designers.
- Click here for the NYTimes article or here for a video link, in which the reporting musician visits and plays with people at several of the parks.
- For more information, including interactive challenges going on daily (to wit: musicians attempting to play all the pianos in one day, and random players posting pictures), check out the Sing for Hope facebook page here.
- Are you closer to Cleveland, Paris, Omaha or Boston? The group Play Me I’m Yours is running similar projects with events in those cities; visit streetpianos.com for more info on that group.
I’ll be in New York next month, too late to check out the installation for myself — but the concept alone (and listening to songs being played by various musicians who’ve posted video) was enough to captivate me.
As much as I will make the most of my free-to-work hours in the coming months, Sing for Hope is reminder to savor opportunities to go where you can find pianos in a park or fresh fruit at a market or conversation with a friend or the warmth of smelling horses out in a field or the crisp snap of wind in filling sails… or whatever other joys of summer that will stimulate your senses.
* * * * *
What about you?
Where will you go — or do you wish you could go — to stimulate your senses or inspire your creativity?
To my regular readers, this also serves as a “hello,” as so many friends have inquired about my absence from some of our common forums. All is well — I’ve been busy, in great ways, with work. In February, I took over teaching a 5th grade class, which kept me busy planning not only writing, but U.S. History and science. I’ve kept going with work on my novel, but additional writing time has gone to nonfiction and education materials, including setting up a separate blog and Pinterest, sharing the title Mrs. T’s Middle Grades (Why “T”? I teach under my married name of Thompson). I’d welcome feedback on the new blog (email or DM me), as it’s a baby and in need of tweaking.
I look forward to reconnecting to hear what you have been doing, as well — either here or in our facebook or twitter forums.
* * * * *
If you like this blog, be sure to subscribe using WordPress’s +follow option, or via email or RSS feed. I love to connect with like-minded readers and writers!
- Writing Workshop: Novel Writing Prompts From Donald Maass
- A “vintage” favorite: Novel Writing: Grace Paley — How Internal & External Conflict Build Story
- Friday Links for Writers 03.08.13
- Winter 2013 Reading List