Thursday, July 20, 2017

Summer Musings (and Excursions)

This summer, I’ve traveled to Tampa, Fla., Bozeman, Mt., Millinocket, Me., and Old Orchard Beach, Me.; and soon I'll be in Richmond, Va., and then Fitchburg, Mass.

Summer is a time to recharge and move forward. I usually work on a new book –– jotting notes, outlining, and getting the project off the ground. But this year, I’m trying to finish a book, writing and rewriting. A lot. I began the book a year ago. It’s taken much longer than anticipated (and much longer than it typically takes me). I had a hard time finding the voice. I wrote the opening 50 pages three times, changed point of view and tense each time until I got those right. Now I’m 250 pages in. Jogs and long walks are helping me plot (“I’m going writing,” I tell my wife). I started with an eight (or so)-page outline, which I’ve followed somewhat. But the story usually knows where it wants to go, and I learned a long time ago to get out of its way and try to solve the mystery –– in a logical manner –– with my sleuth. If the book stalls, I missed a clue, and I go back and reread what I’ve written. This will keep me busy until the school year starts up again –– and well into the fall.

I hadn’t planned on all the travel, but some educational consulting opportunities arose –– and I enjoy working with teachers who take their craft seriously enough to give up a week in the summer –– so I’ve mixed work and play. The result has been a lot of time in the car or on a plane with books (both audio and print). My reading list to date is The Sympathizer (2015), by Viet Thanh Nguyen; Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption (2014), by Bryan Stevenson; Passing (1929), by Nella Larsen; and Here First (2000), a collection of biographical essays by Native American writers. All are highly recommended. But if you’re reading this blog, you probably know that The Sympathizer won the Pulitzer and the Edgar, so I’m not going to plug that book –– you’ll read it anyway.
And, if you’re reading this post, you probably know of Bryan Stevenson’s incredible humanitarian work on behalf of the oppressed in the criminal justice system, so I’ll leave that one alone, too. I will, however, plug Nella Larsen’s hundred-page gem that speaks of race as a currency, and of Here First –– you know of Sherman Alexie’s work; reading this will allow you a chance to meet a variety of other native American writers. The collection is both fascinating and compelling.

Right now, I’ll be in Richmond, Va., watching my daughter play lacrosse and listened to Passing (more than once) on our 10-hour drive from Maine.

I hope you’re getting as much reading and writing done as I am this summer.


Sybil Johnson said...

Sounds like you are quite busy this summer. Safe travels and I hope you get that book finished to your liking.

Vicki Delany said...

I was going to do my next post on what I've been reading this summer, and top of the list is the Sympathizer.

Dave Pettibone said...

COACH! I just stumbled upon this blog after I saw your name in some sort of Linked-In update. Sounds like you and the family are doing very well. I didn't know you had other nom de plume's - very cool to see what you've been up to. Take good care! -Coach Pbone