I could pretty much read mysteries and thrillers all the time but I know reading widely and outside my genre will help me become a better reader and writer. This past month, despite cramming in a lot of writing, I managed to read a couple books worth mentioning.
I came downstairs the other night and found Michelle sitting on the couch surrounded by a calendar, her laptop and 22 open browser tabs. It was summer camp planning time! After looking at our planned vacations, the sometimes stressful experience last year, and the general cost now with two kids going to camp full-time, we actually ended up scaling back the number of camps.
A bit counterintuitive, but it was just too much. Too much money, too much scheduling, too much logistics. Life is tough enough without stressing about what the kids will be doing on a random August Tuesday in May while it’s dark and raining and forty degrees out. We don’t need more excuses to drink wine.
We’ve decided to stop trying to constantly schedule engaging experiences each and every day. Just being at home together living our lives is good and enough.
So we are trying a less is more summer. The kids will have a few camps (can’t stay no to every theatre and musical camp!) and a few weeks on the Cape but mostly they will be home wandering around in the cul-de-sac. They will likely get bored at some point. They will likely get into petty sibling fights. They will definitely drive me crazy, too, but that’s all part of summer vacation.
When we lived in Boston, there was a strong running culture and a lot of places to run, but you almost always had to pause at some point to cross a road or dodge some cars. In the ‘burbs, you don’t usually has that problem. You have space and if you’re lucky you might have trails.
As a master runner with an arthritic knee, I’ve been very happy to watch the growth of trail races in recent years. There is now a thriving barn-to-trail race series that partners with local farms, plus a number of other races taking advantage of the preserved land and trails in the area. That includes the New Life Furniture 5k trail race on the Medfield State Hospital land.
Sometimes you just can’t take any more 4th grade humor or Kidz Bop bath time soundtracks. You just need to get away and have some adult conversation. Date night becomes a survival necessity and not a luxury.
Another week, another milestone. The girls became latch key kids last week. I had work meetings in the city and there was going to be a gap in time where the girls would be home alone after school for an hour.
Ce was excited. Ally was more apprehensive. I think she was more concerned with what the unfettered power of big sister might unleash than the prospect of being without parental supervision.
She also expressed a less founded apprehension that a random thunderstorm would hit while they were by themselves. We went over the weather reports very thoroughly. I’m not sure she was convinced.
In the end, a little freedom was a good thing. I came home and the house was intact. They had made a snack (even making one for me), started their homework, and not spilled too much glitter. I’ll consider that a successful experiment in independence and free range parenting.
I think writing and writers can come in all shapes, sizes, genres, and varieties. I don’t think there is any one book or workshop or group that is going to magically help you become a better writer. I do believe two things about writing. First, it is a craft and needs to be practiced. Second, to be a writer, you need to have a love of reading.
If you’ve baked long enough, you’ve probably screwed up a recipe at some point by putting the wrong one in the batter and ended up with a metallic tasting cake or an overflowing quick bread.
Want to just cut to the chase?