Summer Slump

I think this has been the least literate summer of my life.  I sent my agent my revamped proposal for the last historical novel I worked on, having pledged to myself that I would not work on it any more unless it sold.  In all honesty, I think the revamp has made the novel worse, so I’m not anticipating a good reaction.  That’s a shame since I started out really liking it.  The fact that it’s been nearly two months and I haven’t heard back from my agent doesn’t bode well.

I haven’t even felt much motivation to read.  I was working my way through Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, but lord, that book takes work!  And I haven’t felt up to it.  I’ve been wading through Grimm’s fairy tales, looking for inspiration, but haven’t found any.  I just bought a book whose title I don’t even remember simply because it was a staff recommendation from The Tattered Cover book store and it looked like something I might like to “write something like,” since I am told that whatever I write must be “like” some other book in order for it to sell.  So far, it’s not really grabbing me.

So basically, I feel like I’m wasting a summer.  It’s been about 11 years since I’ve let a summer go by without working on a novel.  As you can see, I’ve hardly blogged.  I honestly don’t think a summer has passed since I learned to read that I haven’t powdered off a stack of books.

I’ve done other things, for sure.  I’ve gone on the first out-of-town vacation in three years (San Francisco).  I’ve been teaching my daughter to drive.  She and I have made lots of day-trips in that pursuit, so we have enjoyed one of the last summers before she heads off for college.  These are fine uses of time off.  I’ve been watching too much TV—reruns of House, Law and Order SVU, stuff like that.  This may well be the cause of the dried-up creative juices.  Just as I defend “trashy” literature, I fully defend pure entertainment on TV—in moderation.  I just haven’t been terribly judicious about the quantity.

I know this sounds like I’m complaining.  Actually, it’s not so much that as it is a description of a slump.  I know I’ll come out of it.  Either inspiration will strike and I’ll write something I love (whether it sells or not) or I’ll realize I want to do something else.  I have invested a sizable amount of time trying to reinstate book reading and essay writing in our county’s English curriculum.  I have a meeting with my union rep, our chief academic officer, and few others in August.  As I said, not an entirely unproductive summer, just not the most literate one.

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Paula is an author of historical fiction as well as a wife, mom, and teacher.
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3 Responses to Summer Slump

  1. Fowl Ideas says:

    Several years ago I spent 72 hours in my home office trying to produce something for the 3 Day Novel Contest. Actually I entered the office when I woke up and left it shortly after midnight. I even ate food and took a shower.

    http://www.3daynovel.com/

    Being relatively devoid of ego, I feel comfortable admitting that I wouldn’t pay a cent for any of the 93 pages of text I produced. It was more of an exercise to see what I could do when I had nothing else to do than any attempt at landing a publishing contract. What I learned was that my normal, daily routine provided a wealth of distractions, many of which you described.

  2. Neal says:

    Your summer doesn’t sound like a waste at all, my friend. Taking a vacation with the people you love is good for the soul. Riding around in the car with Leah while teaching her to drive? Recharging your batteries after an intense year at school?

    We all need time to simply take care of ourselves. Enjoy it.

  3. HatGirl says:

    Hi Paula,

    Nice to read a blog from you again. Given your energy, it’s kind of funny that a “slump” for you would likely be another person’s full plate.

    Your ability to juggle so many balls in the air with such expertise and perfection is truly amazing, and I don’t know how you were even able to keep up that pace for so long ( have always been envious of that) 🙂

    I’m no therapist, but I think your brain is just a bit tired and needs a well deserved time out. Tough to do for someone like you, nourished by high octane noggin’ productivity, but I hope you can embrace at least a few “brainless” days – no guilt allowed!- and appreciate this summer as a blessing.

    Enjoy it; before long, you’ll be back at it again; Full Speed Paula Reed.

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