Tag Archives: back to school


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So what’s the problem? It’s a misty, early September morning. A thunderstorm has just rolled through, leaving yellow leaves from the black walnut littering the lawn. The grasshoppers are zithering in the tangle of meadow grasses that I call a garden. My daughter has made it through her first week of college with ease. My sons are enjoying the last few days of freedom before school. My husband is getting a well-earned lie-in for Labor Day. And I’m in a dither. A hand grenade has exploded in my writing life.

Yes, I expected the saggy schedule of summer to play havoc with my writing habits. But what I wasn’t expecting was the complete and utter unhinging of my focus. My butterfly brain dips and swoops from one brightly colored flower to the next, barely alighting for more than a second—certainly not enough to produce any significant work.

And now that the return to normalcy is looming, I’m scared that my writing muscle has gone flabby. I’m bracing for that moment when I sit down in front of my computer and it will feel like a slow, painful jog uphill after months of couch-potatoing, with all the bits of my brain jiggling. I’m afraid that in my absence, my characters will have slipped into bad habits. I’ll look at them and realize that they too are weak and flaccid from lack of exercise.

So what’s to be done? Stop feeling sorry for myself. Strap on the gear and put one foot in front of the other until I’m up to tempo, until the muscles feel taught and responsive, until I can read a paragraph and go, hum, not too shabby.