Many of us who engage in creative pursuits on top of having a day job and various social/family obligations can often find it frustrating trying to eek out enough free time to devote to our projects. When we do get free time, sometimes we struggle to utilize it. Creative blocks often come when we just don't have the energy to focus on our creative goals. But when the stars do manage to align and we have both the free time and the energy to create, we can fall into another problem. Sometimes we can become so immersed in our projects that we forget to take time for ourselves.
With July here, another session of Camp NaNoWriMo has started. Normally I don't bother with NaNoWriMo anymore; I find setting word count goals runs counter to how I prefer to work. But this month, I'm using Camp NaNo to explore some new writing projects I've been putting off in favor of making progress on established stories. For me, NaNoWriMo is a good excuse to explore plots and scenarios that I've never written about before but would like to try.
We've been experiencing another wet spring and early summer here in Pennsylvania. Warm temperatures in the 80s have only lasted for a few days at a time, and rain and overcast skies have dominated most weeks. Many of my elders have yet to turn on their air conditioning units, and my bedroom window is void of its usual fan. For the first time this year, I plugged in my dehumidifier this weekend.
The other evening, I was browsing through some of my wildlife photography, looking for shots to share with a friend. I have thousands of photos I've taken over the years, and for the first time, I recognized the amount of improvement I've made. Although I still end up with my fair share of crappy shots when I take my camera for a hike, the quality of the photos worth keeping has grown.
I've just come back from another convention weekend, and once again, the timing of this event fell into the perfect place to help me handle life's stresses. But one thing about this con which makes it better than previous ones is the friends I've made. Some of those friends I knew prior to the con, but others I met there. And coming back home, we all are riding the energy of the three-day party and continuing the fun.
Summer can be a busy time for many people. Between graduation parties, vacations, cookouts, and other outdoor adventures, time spent indoors and at home decreases as the weather warms. This may mean that time for creative pursuits gets usurped by social activities, but for me, I find myself with more opportunities to work on projects.
Memorial Day is supposed to be a day of remembrance for the soldiers who never made it home, but more often than not, it turns into a celebration of the beginning of summer for many families. As we lose another generation of veterans to inevitable old age, the memories of those who fell in combat during their time of service become lost. But it doesn't have to be so. Not everyone who is a storyteller has a gift for writing or the confidence to put pen to paper.
Recently, I have been reading two different books on the same subject. Both are memoirs in the form of short stories. One author started publishing his books (I've only been reading one at this time) after approximately two decades of experience. The other published after five years. For someone interested in the topic, both books are entertaining, but I find much more satisfaction in the storytelling of the elder writer. His writing has a beautifully reflective quality that results in a wonderful sense of humor, irony, and spirituality. I do not mean to say the younger writer's stories are not enlightening, but his storytelling does show his comparative youth. His focus gets wrapped up in the excitement of first time experiences and the relevant facts as to why these instances during his career brought him such joy. In essence, he is an adventurous nerd.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have spent several days with my DSLR camera, enjoying the spring weather and searching out wildflowers and migrating birds. I've captured some beautiful shots, found birds I don't often get a chance to photograph, and come across some things I had not thought to see at all. Some of my camera walks I've done as part of my job and so had been allowed to spend office hours reviewing and editing those photos. And during that time, I realized why I have a bad habit of putting off photo editing. Even if a day's set is well-composed and requires little time per photo during editing, it is still a very time-consuming process for me. And that can be quite frustrating.
Now that we are into May, my spring fieldtrip season is in full swing. I'm teaching classes on wetlands, wildlife, plants, and ecology every week. It's a great time to introduce students to the changes in the environment around them as spring slowly drifts into summer. Often it amazes me what things are completely unfamiliar to them, such as willow flowers, crayfish, or salamanders. But it's also exciting to introduce them to things for the first time that I usually take for granted. Even though these students are with me for only a few short hours out of their entire academic childhood, sometimes it's enough to open new doorways for them and spur them into a lifelong love of nature.