I’ve always been a bit jealous of my friends and colleagues who do participate in intensive writing sessions, regular writing groups, and other collective efforts to make writing easier, more fun, and more productive.
Usually by this time in the summer, I’m in Cyprus studying material from Polis and writing in little chunks between work in the storerooms and on site. This work is almost always productive, but tends to be a bit raw.
This summer is different, of course, because I’m not traveling to Cyprus or Greece so I won’t have the time or the environment to churn out raw text (which isn’t to say that I don’t have a freezer full of raw text that is just waiting to be cooked). I’m also barreling full speed out of a very disrupted spring semester where my priorities and schedules was turned upside down and it became hard both to find blocks of time to write or to know for certain what I should be writing when. In fact, suddenly all my writing projects look so tantalizingly possible over the next nine months and my inbox is filled with exciting, “almost ready” manuscripts from collaborators and plans to finish this or that unfinished project.
All of this is happening with a deadline for a book manuscript barreling down on me in January of 2021. I suspect that my publisher and editor will be understanding if my manuscript is late, but knowing that I can be late doesn’t really help me get pages written or somehow make the steady flow of other commitments more manageable. At best, I am displacing one responsibility for another.
All of this is to say that I’m going to participate in the #1000WordsOfSummer writing event starting on Friday. I think I’m going to work on two chapters of my book project. The first chapter should be a very gentle revision and expansion of an article that I wrote which for some reason never got submitted. The second chapter will be new start. I’m hoping the time that I spend tweaking the first chapter will give me a bit of space to do the reading that I need to do to write the second chapter in a reasonable way.
This will also prompt a few changes here on this blog. Rather than my random daily posts, I think I’ll turn the blog over to my #1000WordsOfSummer and see if I can write for two weeks straight and churn out words that advance my various writing projects.
More than that, I want to spend the next two weeks thinking seriously about how I write and what I write. Every now and then, I try to focus on my writing as craft, but this almost always get overrun by the pressure of some deadline, on the one hand, or the simple (and mundane) pleasure of putting words on the page (as an escape from the more painful work of editing, revising, reading, and research). I recognize intellectually that writing is a creative process, but in practice I’m always too ready to relegate writing to manifestation of ideas and creativity generated elsewhere. Maybe the 1000 words of summer will help change this.