Photo credit: Arek Socha on Pixabay

I really thought my online expedition would do the trick.

At least once or twice a day, I get an email from Road Scholar. This is a company that leads tour groups all over the world. One of the differences between Road Scholar and other tour companies is that Road Scholar is all about education. They don’t just show you the animals—they tell you what they are and lots of information about them. You may also learn about the history of the region where you’re traveling. For a certain species of geek (me), this is a ton of fun.

In late winter, I received an email for an online expedition to the Arctic. Four days, three hours per day, plus lists of reference materials and suggested reading.

By this point, I was painfully aware that despite my internet research, I knew practically nothing about the Arctic. When you’re writing a book set largely at the North Pole, this can be problematic. After all, it’s not realistic to assume that the characters will never go outside, so what will they see? What birds and animals will be around? Also, what will they eat? It’s not as though they’re going to be having chicken and pork since they don’t have pigs and chickens, so what will the menu look like?

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#1000wordsofsummer 2022, Day Fourteen

Photo credit: Gerd Altmann on Pixabay

And that’s a wrap, folks.

Somewhat unbelievably, I did it. In spite of major personal challenges that offered me every reason in the world to quit—or simply not to start in the first place—I finished this year’s #1000wordsofsummer challenge.

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#1000wordsofsummer 2022, Day Thirteen

Photo credit: Joshua Lanzarini on Unsplash

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday, the temperature was in the mid-eighties, and I had the air conditioner on as I wrote inside. Today, it’s 64F plus a periodic strong breeze. I’m back to writing on the porch, but this time I’m wearing a sweatshirt and my tea has long since gone cold.

Ah, well. The writing is coming, and that’s what counts.

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#1000wordsofsummer 2022, Day Twelve

Photo credit: Matthew Bornhorst on Unsplash

Late posting today, because late writing.

I instituted summer hours today. My plan for the summer is to shut down the office at 2:30 on Fridays. It’s nearly impossible to find people on Friday afternoon in the summer anyway, and inevitably I end up leaving messages for clients and their staff that nobody’s going to listen to until Monday, so why not join the crowd?

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#1000wordsofsummer 2022, Day Eleven

Photo credit: Jack Hodges on Unsplash

So far today, I’ve talked with a lawyer whose opposing counsel thinks jurisdiction doesn’t matter (spoiler: it does) and learned that I might need to quarantine after the friend with whom I had dinner last night tested positive on her home test for covid this morning. On the upside, she tested negative on the rapid test at the walk-in. Since she had a false positive a few weeks ago, and false positives are extremely rare, it’s been suggested that she might have gotten a corrupted batch of tests. So she got a PCR test as a tie-breaker. We’re awaiting the results with crossed fingers.

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#1000wordsofsummer 2022, Day Ten

Photo credit: Bekir Dönmez on Unsplash

If it hadn’t been for this challenge, I probably wouldn’t have written today.

I have a lot of work to do. I lost most of yesterday afternoon at the doctor’s, including going back again when the x-ray technician called to tell me she hadn’t realized she was supposed to take additional images.

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#1000wordsofsummer 2022, Day Nine

Photo credit: me

One of the best things about doing this challenge in June is that nearly every day, I’ve been able to work out on the porch. Moderate temperature, light breeze whispering through the trees, birdsong, and—since the porch is screened-in—the company of my cats dozing in the sunshine.

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#1000wordsofsummer 2022, Day Eight

I’m now two days behind the pack. When I returned home yesterday after church, Mom, and errands, I settled in on the porch with wine, crackers, and the world’s best seafood and shrimp dip from a local market. I don’t recall what I was reading, but it had to have been something because after all, this is me. A client called about his newest project, and we chatted. All seemed fine and peaceful.

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#1000wordsofsummer 2022, Day Seven

Photo credit: me

A quiet day today, even with all the mowers and weed whackers and power tools that try to drown out the birdsong. Mildly overcast much of the time. The slightest hint of a breeze. The tiniest bit cooler outside than in.

This morning, I awoke when one of the cats came up on the bed. In her senior years, she’s become much more vocal, especially when she thinks I should wake up and pay attention to her. But she doesn’t annoy me, because she’s my beloved girl and she can do as she likes, because that’s how things go with your beloved ones.

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#1000wordsofsummer 2022, Day Six

Photo credit: me

Yesterday, I granted myself a day off from this challenge. After my father’s funeral, I felt entitled. So I’ll be one day off from the rest of the group doing this challenge. So be it.

Many years ago, I came home from the funeral of one of my closest friends and opened my laptop. The story I wrote had its genesis in something I’d seen: her petite mother, her equally petite aunts, and her blonde cousin standing by her graveside, singing a hymn. I watched these brave women in their black dresses, and the thought came to me: a parent should never have to bury their child.

It happens all the time, of course. I knew it even then. Especially in the wake of recent horrific tragedies, it would be foolish to try to deny it. But the image stays in my brain to this day, the image and its accompanying thought. On that day, the way I addressed the thought and the image was to write.

Yesterday, though, I chose not to. By the time I got home with my takeout dinner, it was past eight o’clock, and I was done. I actually did think about writing, but not for long. The only thing I could have written about at that moment was the day’s events, and I simply do not have the distance to do this.

But this morning, as clients call and kind friends continue to reach out, as post-funeral tasks beckon, as I realize that the world is going to go on whether I like it or not, I took some time to disappear into my novel. Some of my current feelings are in the words I wrote, albeit in a very different context. It’s possible I’ll be drawing on more of these experiences as the book develops. More than possible. Likely.

Regardless, I wrote today.