One Weekend in the Life of a Writer


This weekend was particularly busy at our house. With SAT Subject tests, two Biology projects, one of which was a sleep study (guess who didn’t sleep?), videotaping a film for French class, gathering samples of goldenrod, instrument practice (French horn, cello, and trombone) for three upcoming recitals, and trying to spring clean for a community yard sale next week, there was what seemed like nonstop chaos for three days in a row. However, all of this activity didn’t go to waste because, as we writers know, there is a story to be found in every experience!

Since I was already awake from the sleep study, after driving three teenager’s home at 5:00 a.m., I made a cup of coffee and read the Sunday New York Times cover-to-cover, a luxury that I rarely have. As usual the stories were both well written and thought-provoking so I took out my journal and wrote a five-page entry, touching on different ideas and emotions that the articles had triggered in me.

Then, inspired by an article written by a woman who takes a long train trip with her two sons (22 and 26) about how different the mother/child relationship becomes once your children are adults, I drafted a piece about some of the emotional kinks my nineteen year old son and I have been working out since he’s returned home from his freshman year in college.

Next, in the New York Times Book Review, I found some titles to add to my summer reading list including a book called, “The Shallows” by Nicholas Carr about what the Internet is doing to our brains that my very literate freshman had recently recommended. Just in time for Father’s Day, I was able to tear out a review of “The Absolute Value of Mike” by Kathryn Erskine; that, once read, will be a perfect complement to the other books about boys and their relationships that I’ve been reviewing for the Teen Book Reviews I write.

Once I was done with the Times, since my family was still sleeping, I refreshed my coffee and picked up “Stevens: Collected Poetry and Prose”, yet another suggestion of my son, thinking wistfully to myself, “What am I going to do when he leaves for his summer job as a camp counselor?”  Naturally, I’d heard of Wallace Stevens, who hasn’t? But I have to admit that I’ve never read anything of his, not even in high school English. I immediately turned to “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”; a poem whose imagery and words are carefully selected to achieve maximum impact and which instantly reminded me of why I love to read good poems. As I sampled some of Steven’s other poems, I found myself noticing how many of them were about nature and sitting and quietly observing what was going on around him. As I closed the book, I vowed to take more time this summer to be alone with nature, to give my mind room to breathe and my ideas a space to grow in.

That’s what all weekends should be like. No matter how chaotic your life is, making time to read and write, not just for business but for pleasure and the enjoyment you get out of doing these things is crucial, not just for writers, but for everyone!

How was your weekend?

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