Summer - All About Me by Donna

I'm currently in the midst of rough drafting. It's the part of the writing process that is at the same time exhilarating, yet completely overwhelming. The idea of creating something where nothing existed before keeps me frozen with hands perched over a keyboard... waiting ... to create a scene or characters that no one but my own mind has ever seen. Yet hopefully, when someone does read what I have created on that blank page, the reader is able to see it, too. Perhaps the reader will create an image in her own mind that is even clearer, more connected to her own reality, than what I imagined in the first place.

Thinking about all that can be daunting, and the pressure to get it right certainly doesn't help the creative juices flow freely. So rough draft writing requires quite a bit of mind games on my part to support the process. One of my favorite ways to convert the blank page into a novel is through journaling. There is something a little bit comforting about giving yourself permission to fill up an empty page with ANYTHING you want to write about a scene or a character. It doesn't have to be the "real" story, although I have discovered it often turns out to find a place somewhere. I start by thinking of a scene or a specific character and I just write. I try to keep typing even when I don't know what's next. Sometimes I even write, "I don't know what the next line is supposed to be" just to keep me going.

Today's journal was going to be about the weather. Or at least that's what it started out to be about. I wanted a scene where the weather had a part in the action, so that's where I began. I grew up on the gulf coast of Texas and had rarely seen snow before moving here to Colorado, so the below zero temperatures this winter have turned my thoughts to warmer, sunnier times. Below is a snippet of a journal entry about weather that, as so often happens, turned into something else entirely. Maybe something of this will become part of a bigger story someday, or maybe not, but it was a wonderful memory for a Colorado February.

Summer sounded like the ball park. I loved the sound of a softball whacking into a glove with a loud pop. The louder the pop the better. I was the catcher in the fast pitch league. My father, the coach, had taught me long ago not to flinch when the ball hurtled through the air so fast you could hardly see it slap into the glove with a resounding pop.

"Get in front of it," he would yell, "Don't let it get past you."

I remember the sound of the crowd and the announcer calling out that someone had just earned a free snowcone if they would just return that foul ball to the concession stand.

And I remember the sound of my Dad's voice, I could pick it out of all the others, yelling, "They're going to steal second."

My dad was a real coach. Not the part time, summer special kind of coach with a regular job at the bank. No, my dad was a real coach. He coached football in the fall and basketball in the spring at Lake Jackson Junior High school and ever since I could remember boys had been showing up at our front door with a tentative reverent knock to see if my father could come out to play.

Summer also sounded like the ocean. When the heat became more that we could bare, and the bottoms of our brown bare feet had blisters on them from dancing across scalding sidewalks, the family would pile into the old car and head for the beach. After only a few blocks, we would burst out of the green tangle that was Lake Jackson and onto the salt grass plains of the Gulf Coast. Passing the huge smoke belching Dow Chemical plant on the right, we would take the overpass out to Surfside. As we got closer and closer to the intercoastal, I could feel the pull. The salt air swept in the open windows and something inside me moved higher. It's hard to explain how I felt, still feel, about the ocean. I always understood why people said they were "called" away to the ocean. It was like that for me. I would crane my neck from the backseat of the old Ford, for the first glimpse of blue from the top of the intercoastal bridge and then, when I saw it stretched out below, I would breathe again, deep gasps of salt air, never realizing I had been holding my breath until just that moment. It was like coming home.

But it was the sound I missed most - that glorious, roarious sound of the sea. First out of the car, I would run to the water's edge and stand arms outstretched like the seagulls above me and drown in the wonderful roar of the water. I couldn't hear anything else. I didn't want to hear anything else. Sometimes I could almost hear the sound of a mother calling to her child, or a man to his dog, but it was so close to the sound of the seagulls that it didn't matter. You didn't have to answer anyone. They all knew you couldn't hear them calling to you.

The ocean drowned it all out.

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