Idaho Statesman columnist Roger Phillips recently wrote a column on the 26 Days of Summer. The basic idea is that if you have a regular nine-to-five job, you only have 13 weekends, or 26 days, to do all your hiking, biking, camping, canoeing, fishing, and swimming for the year. His article was for outdoor enthusiasts, but it brought me face to face with a writing dilemma I face this time every year.
I live for summer.
I’m a transplant to the state, and I’ve never quite accepted the notion of intentionally going outside when it’s less than 50˚F. Most of the year, this works to the advantage of my writing career. Skip skiing to write? Sure, no problem, I’d probably break my leg anyway.
But skip canoeing to write? Give up a match of tennis? Miss out on biking the river? That’s a different story. All summer long, I have an imaginary clock ticking in my head. If we don’t do it now, when will we do it? And my kids are teenagers. We don’t have that many summers left before they head off to college and Idaho is just a quaint piece of their backstory.
This weekend, we decided to drop everything and visit Shoshone Falls. We knew the water was high, the falls were their most impressive, and it was something we had wanted to do for eight years. But it meant missing a writers’ meeting I should have attended, and my sense of adventure was tinged with guilt.
On the way to Twin Falls, we talked about all the places in Idaho we have always wanted to visit, but never had the time. I checked my calendar. Of my 13 summer weekends, two were filled up with the RWA National conference, one with a writer’s retreat, four with religious events, and three with kids’ soccer games. 22 days of summer already gone. That leaves us with just two summer weekends free.
If I want to get all those summer activities in, I’m going to have to give up some writing time.
Writing is a job. Weekdays, I work at it from nine to five. But you can’t write about life if you haven’t experienced it. Occasionally, we have to step away from the computer.
As writers, we have one advantage. We can work whenever we choose, wherever we choose. Luckily, the days are longer, and we can always squeeze more writing into the pre-dawn hours. But I’ve already accepted that my summer word counts are likely to be disappointing.
How do you balance summer vacation and writing? I would love to hear your solutions.