Summer Heat…

I’ve been thinking on a plethora of thoughts lately. The heat, however, has weighed me down and I’m not quite interested in following any of them down the road they are leading me. I’ve been reading Madeleine L’Engle slowly this summer, as if every paragraph is a conversation we’re having over coffee.

This morning she validated what I know to be true: “Inspiration does not always precede the act of writing; it often follows it. I go to my typewriter with reluctance; I check the ribbon; I check my black felt pens; I polish my collection of spectacles; finally I start to put words, almost any words, down on paper.

Usually, then, the words themselves will start to flow; they push me, rather tan vice versa.” -L’Engle, A Circle of Quite.

I write in the early morning hours. While the earth is cooled a bit and the air outside doesn’t threaten to choke me with its intensity. I wake with the early dawn and shuffle outside and write as long as I can before I’m forced back inside.

I am working on book four in the Simply Trouble Series. It doesn’t have a title yet, I mean, it does but it isn’t quite right. Hell, if ever there were a metaphor for how writing goes at the beginning for me, that’s it. The storyline for this fourth book is there in my mind, but the writing is slow.  Getting back into my rhythm is like walking through syrup at first. Sticky, trudging, and I’m seldom in the mood for it. But just like I know I’ll find a title, I’ll find the cadence and excitement soon.

I also find I am always surprised when I start writing again. I never think I have another story or words left in me after I finish writing a book. I type the words “The End” and lovingly put a title page on the work. I cradle it for several days, always doting on my finished piece because I fear it’s the last one. I fear that the creativity has been tapped and what I hold in my arms is the very last thing I’ll ever write.

Then an idea comes or I just start writing, because that’s what I do, I write every day … so I write some ridiculousness down and the world forms once more, a never ending tide; so I keep writing.

This summer has had a very “festina tarde” feel to it. (That’s Italian for the idea to “make haste slowly”). I think most summers have that feel though, don’t you? I always set out with grand plans to enjoy the hell out of the long, hot, sun filled days. And then it’s the end of July and I’m not quite sure where the time has gone. This summer has seen the publishing of a book, a trip to the Oregon Coast, California and the woods. And now I’m getting ready for the next trip which is a bit of family reunion-ing.

Of course the constant has been the writing. Writing random thoughts, random scenes … but in the summer, my words seem tired. So is it any wonder I spend a lot of my words on heat drenched summer descriptions?

This morning was no different:

“A book lies closed next to me, on the sheet – towels cling to body heat too much, so sheets have become the chosen ground covering – the book is too heavy today for today’s heat. I fear if I opened it and tried to read, the Garamond words would melt, slip off the page into a jumbled mess onto my chest.

The book is too heavy.”

I liked this idea of heat. So since I’m just getting warmed up and finding my rhythm once again for my current work in progress, I thought I’d procrastinate by scouring my old words to find a few sentences that have to do with heat.

“The bus methodically wound its way up into the rugged country. Trees grew thick alongside the road. I thought I even saw a few tropical birds and a monkey, but I couldn’t be sure. I was in a surreal state of exhaustion that mingled with the heat, lack of air-conditioning and the lurching motion of the bus as it changed gears and desperately chugged forward – all of it lulling me into a sleepy, dreamlike state.”  – From a book coming out in late 2025 called Thirty.

“The sweat pooled in the dip in my lower back and I absently ran my hand over the spot.  My attention wasn’t on the heat rising with the early morning sun or the sweat that spotted my forehead; it was on the majestic scene laid before me. A feast of History. Time stood still and I couldn’t catch my breath as I attempted to take in the whole gleaming Colosseum. The grand symbol of Rome rested at the end of an ancient road. I let my neck strain backwards so my eyes could take in as much of this ancient structure as they could, and it still wasn’t enough. – From “A Roma

“Jasmine sat at the kitchen table. The back door was open, a breeze wafted in through the screen, making the warped wooden frame creak as it fluttered against the door jamb. The storm the night before had blown away the weighted summer scents, brushed away the dust and the heat. Replacing it all with sweet smells of wet grass and moss. The earthy scents mingled and drifted into the kitchen, pushing out the heavy summer air that still lingered. Birds sang their morning song, reveling in the break of the heat and cicadas began to tune their daily chorus.”  – from Bayou Summer (Not sure when this book will come out…)

“…our hotel rooms were merely places we showered and reorganized our suitcases. The only sleep to be had was on the bus that took us from one glorious landscape to the next. I tried to stay awake then too. Tried to memorize every moment, staring out at the hazy summer morning of Parisian streets. I tried to sear the patterns of Chagall’s windows in the Cathedral in Reims onto my skin. I attempted to instill the memory of the crick in my neck caused by staring up into the sky at the single steeple standing atop Strasbourg’s cathedral…and in between all of those places, I tried to immerse myself in a culture only visible in glimpses from high above the walking locals, in a touring bus.” – From The Italian Holiday

“Atlanta, 5pm in the middle of September was unexpected, as far as the weather went.  The women deplaned and followed the signs toward the car rentals. They obtained the keys to the car and then headed toward the automatic doors that lead to the parking structure for the rental cars. Once outside, the unbearable heat and muggy disposition of the south in late afternoon wrung out the women’s lungs. Shocking them all into a standstill.” -from a book that doesn’t have a title yet.

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