Books are stacking up again in messy heaps beside the bed, the bathtub and the door to the deck. I tuck into the sheets with the windows wide and listen to the nighttime birds while I'm lost in words...I relax in the water and let the phrases cleanse my mind of its clutter...I slip outside and read wantonly in the sun. I have copies tucked in my car in case of a traffic jam and in my bag in case of a free moment waiting in line. Summer has unofficially begun and that means I indulge my bookish whims all season long.
I never thought of my reading trends as having a "seasonal" link--but they clearly do. In the fall, I am back to writing in a nose-to-the-grindstone sort of way. I am highly selective about what books I will read when I am immersed in a project full-on. In winter, I tend to wander into poetry. Something about sitting by the white-out windows with a blanket around my shoulders and a book of poems on my lap feels logical. By then, I've been working hard on whatever I'm writing a while and novels and essays demand more attention than I have. Spring is garden-book season in all its glory. I only want the paper flowers then when the earth is on the brink of sending up the real ones.
Summer is novel season...and June opened up with a reading first for me: sharing my novel manuscript, Migration Summer, with the public. It was a total blur. I was nervous right until I sat down with my papers in my hand and read my words, then I *wanted* to share them. I wanted everyone to hear them and see me perched on that little wooden stool in the corner. The other chairs were in a crescent moon shape through the room and I had a low spotlight on me. I breathed and read and sharing my work felt like sharing myself in a new way. The wide wooden floorboards shone in the hushed lights and every time I looked up from my pages, I saw a face smiling at me, wanting me to do well and supporting me. I read one scene from each character then gave a talk about mothering and writing. People present purchased goods from the alliance too, so I felt I'd supported the arts by bringing them in. (A bonus since they so kindly offered me the space for free.) I had a full room and my heart was full and I felt--like I am occasionally lucky enough to feel, that there was strength in my words. There are moments where I wonder what in the hell I'm doing it all for and I think I couldn't possibly add anything to the "literary conversation" all writers dive into when they create. But then, these random moments arrive where all of the thinking and worrying fall away and I'm just a current for the stream of words.
All of you who showed up and shared a piece of your afternoon with me, thank you. And if you have any thoughts on another novel to add to my summer stacks, please feel free to let me know! When I'm not reading my own book to my "adoring" fans (also known as my family, friends and writing group colleagues) I would gladly dip into your recommended ones. My first public reading: down, next one: July, stay tuned!