Monday, July 09, 2007

THE SUMMER OFFICE

woodpecker

For weeks, I have been thinking of putting up a post, explaining to anyone who might be interested that I was on a summer hiatus, that for a long and wonderful time, I saw the world in blog posts. Everything and everyone around me was part of a grand and unpredictable tale that might be written about, turned to poetry, photographed, or when I was feeling particularly intrepid, even sketched--and then amazingly--incredibly really--shared with whatever kindred spirits might find it.

But then summer came and something happened. I took up residence in a new novel. My mind, once focused on the glittering outer world, grew utterly consumed with the citizens of this shadowy inner landscape.

I stopped seeing friends, both real and on-line. I didn't go to the gym. Trips to the beach or the movies held no interest. I know this sounds unhealthy, but it feels--marvelous! It's a feeling you can only have when you're doing what you were born to do.

Soon I opened the summer office. Now every morning when I wake up, I put one foot on the floor, and I say thank you. Then I put the other foot on the floor and say thank you again. Thank you for the day. Thank you for the story that hums inside me. Thank you for a chance to be a crazy hermit and write, write, write.

I pour a cup of coffee; if I'm feeling ambitious, I might even comb my hair, then I call the dogs: "Come on girls, it's time to go to work." (Fortunately, my yard is screened by trees on all sides so I don't frighten the neighbors in my pajamas.) Laboriously, my old shepherd-lab rises from her mat and heads for the back door; and the Jack Russell, who is snuggling with the last person still in bed, begrudgingly follows. They take their places on the deck; and I open my laptop.

Life, my friends, is good. Thank you. And thank you again.

DSCN0997

One of my co-workers

blue jay

Another co-worker, tamed by the nuts I leave on the rail, who joins me on a regular basis

summer office

My particular paradise

61 comments:

marja-leena said...

I've been wondering where you've been! How fantastic that you've been swept up by your muse and happily occupied writing a new book. Sounds like the perfect summer, Patry.

Jessie said...

oh, sweet heaven: the summer office! i too have been doing nearly all of my writing with my laptop in the back yard. it is the best writing "room" i have ever had! :)

happy writing to you! and thank you, thank you, thank you for the inspiration i find in these words! :)

Lisa said...

You are doing exactly what I imagined you would be. I'm very happy for you. Still, I check Simply Wait every day, waiting for you to pop in. If it's not time yet, I simply wait. It was well worth it as I'm sure the wait for your follow up to The Liar's Diary will be. Thank you for sharing your writing world with us. :)

Peter said...

Wonderful! We're still here, looking forward to books and posts.

Amishlaw said...

Thanks for letting us know what you've been up to. I was getting a little worried. May you have a long and productive summer.

Anonymous said...

Good to see your back at the blog. I miss it too.
xoxoxo

Sara said...

You know, this is pretty much exactly what I was envisioning for you in your absence. 'Cause it is exactly where you should have been this whole time.

I'm very, very happy for you and wish you many more days like this.

Patry Francis said...

marja-leena: Thanks for checking back even after this long absence. Wishing you an equally sunny and perfect summer!

jessie: Ah, another co-worker! I will think of you and greet you in your own back yard heaven when I head for mine in just a few minutes.

lisa: The first hundred pages goes to my agent TODAY. Wish me luck!
(p.s. Thanks for those daily visits...)

peter: Thank you, friend.

amishlaw: Sorry to make you worry. Thanks for all the good wishes.

anon: I miss it too! (and a long strong of xos to you...)

sara: You all know me so well...hope your summer is equally heavenly.

deirdre said...

Ah, what a lovely workday you have. Now I know I need a laptop. Of course, my real-life work involves getting in the car and driving 20 miles, then spending the day in a building, but my other life should be spent on the porch while a story unwinds itself around me. Happy summer writing to you.

zhoen said...

Thanks for checking in, appreciate it.

My writing is lurking, ready to pouce, I think.

Fred Garber said...

Patry...It sounds as if you are doing just what you should be doing!

Patry Francis said...

zhoen: I like that image..lurking, about to pounce.

fred: Yes, but you know what's got me worried? In my absence, I think I missed dinner at your place!

twoblueday said...

I thought you'd given up posting!
Sounds like you are in a good place with your work and mind. Good stuff.

rdl said...

yeah, good for you!! happy writing! can't wait to read it!

Sharon Hurlbut said...

See, I just knew you were swept up in something new and wonderful! How delicious to be living your dream. Interestingly, I'm on the opposite track right now. I've taken a break from writing to spend all of my time with my girls now that school is out for summer. I feel every bit as contented as you - this is what I'm meant to be doing right now, and it feels great. At the same time, I'm filling up my senses and refueling my soul. When I come back to the writing, I will be re-energized. Yes, life is good. I'm glad to share your joy.

Ric said...

What a great office!! So glad to see you're back at it. A perfect summer, on the porch, nestled with the personalities of the characters in your head, ah, joy!

robin andrea said...

You do have a particular paradise, Patry, both inside and out. I'm glad to see a bit of your world again.

Irene said...

this made me smile ear to ear. it is SO good to hear from you.

Melba said...

I was wondering how you are doing and now I know.

Good to hear!!!

:)
XO,
melba

colleen said...

There you are! I knew. I figured what you were up to and admired your ability to follow the calling. I relate to living and breathing to tell the story, but what about that laptop glare?

Happy to get a peek.

Jane Poe (aka Deborah) said...

What a marvelous feeling!! Now, THAT is a reason to be a hermit. xx, JP

floots said...

i wish you well (and welcome)
substitute black cat for dogs
and i am having a similar summer
enjoy :)

chiefbiscuit said...

When inspiration takes over it is indeed a most marvellous thing. It all sounds idyllic and couldn't have happened to a nicer person! Happy writing!

Therese said...

Patry, I know just how you feel.

I've been almost too busy to write much this summer. Only now am I beginning to get back into the groove. Which means my blog will likely become as quiet as yours has been of late.

My "office" looks very much like yours. Let us hope we'll both be steadily inspired by the decor to get our new books done!

steve said...

Patry--

Glad you're back. Best wishes for your next novel. It reminds me that I've got two short stories I need to be working on in my "office," which is a cluttered studio apartment in Bloomington, IL.

NoVA Dad said...

What a great post; I'm glad to hear how you've been and that things are chugging along for you on your next book! I hope in the midst of all of this writing, you're taking time for you just to relax and get away from everything, even if it's just a few minutes a day. Look forward to seeing you back in blogosphere soon!

Sky said...

i have really missed you! glad to get a glimpse of your summer life. i am happy you are enjoying your work so much. it is glorious to do what you love. it is also far too rare for people to be so gratified. good for you!

if i had not been so sick this past month my life would have largely been spent in the gardens which are now magnificent with bloom, but i have been a hermit living inside hoping for pain-free days. i am finally feeling better so i will race outside tomorrow and see our birds, squirrels, and butterflies! i love your co-workers - they are the best kind to have! even if they gossip they are not vicious! ;-)

KG said...

What a joyous post! Glad to see you back, and inspired to hear of you following your most-clear path.

Thank YOU! :)

P.S. You have the BEST co-workers.

Patry Francis said...

Gerry: I had the same fear--that bloggers block had permanently claimed me. Thanks for stopping by.

r: soon! (I hope...)

sharon: Poems wait; childhood does not. You are a wise mom.

ric: I knew you would understand that kind of paradise.

robin: Wonderful words--thank you for them. I suppose there is no outer paradise without the inner...

irene: Your comment, and thinking of you in Paris had the same effect. Thank you.

melba: I'd still love to take that walk on the beach. I've been collecting stones, and I'm sure Maggie (and Ariel) could help me find something wonderful. xox

colleen: Hey, cousin! I've missed you, too. No laptop glare as long as I sit in the right chair.

Deborah: Enjoying the hermit life seems to be a pre-requisite for being a writer. However, I'm just back from New York where it felt particularly wonderful to be part of the great stream of humanity.

floots: There's a black cat or two among my co-workers, too. They are loveliest of company--though of course, I have to keep them away from the birds.

chiefbiscuit: It might not be an idyl for everyone, but it is for people like me--and I suspect you.
Thanks for returning after my long absence.

therese: At least, yours is a particularly joyful and exciting busyness. I smile just thinking about the phase you are entering.

steve: A cluttered studio apartment in Indiana where you can do nothing but write? Sounds like another form of paradise.Good luck with the short stories.

Matt: A good reminder. Thank you for it. I'm looking forward to spending more time in the blogahood, too.

sky: You are so right. In the summer office, the gossip is never vicious, the bosses aren't controlling, and the coffee breaks last all day. What's not to love? Sorry to hear you've still been having some pain, but it sounds as if things are improving. Though I've never seen your lovely yard, I feel as if I have. Enjoy!!

kg: Thanks for stopping by to share your exuberant self. Hope your summer is equally blissful!

Tinker said...

What wonderful working conditions - and such friendly co-workers, too. Though you're missed in the blogosphere, I'm glad the muse has decided to summer with you, so we'll have another good book to read. Enjoy your summer office!

Sustenance Scout said...

You're living a dream, Patry, and one that's long overdue for you. A wise friend once assured me my day will come and I know it's true. Meanwhile, I'm so glad yours has arrived. Enjoy! K.

TaraDharma said...

simply lovely; to be charged and ready to go! The muse is in attendance, and the planets are aligned! Best wishes!

The Curmudgeon said...

Glad to see you back -- and these certainly look like favorable working conditions....

Patry Francis said...

tinker: You remind me how much I miss my on-line co-workers.

K: Your day WILL come, and when it does, I will be the first to interview you.

taradharma: Some days the muse is more cooperative than others. Today, she was premenstrual. In other words, your encouragement was much needed. Thank you.

curmudgeon: On most days they are. Today, as I said to TD, the muse was cranky, and the man next door was testing his motor boat in the driveway, sending a plume of noxious smoke my way. Apparently, even paradise has its challenges. Thanks for stopping by.

Kristin Ohlson said...

Congratulations! I love that sense of discovery and belonging that a new novel gives.

Mardougrrl said...

That's so incredibly exciting! The way you write about your writing experience...I want to live it like that!

Kitty said...

I adore this post! It's inspiring. Good luck with the new novel--it sounds like you are loving every minute of it. Good for you.

Sally Crawford said...

Hi, I am in the middle of writing a play about the Adam/Eve story and a novel, as well as being more than occupied with the day job.

Inspired by your 'Summer Office', I went straight out and bought a second hand ThinkPad.

I have a grass-fringed concrete yard rather than your more opulent spread (mine is in the city centre where space is at a premium) but I intend to make it work as my 'other' writing room.

It's also nice to be reminded of what being in the throes of a writing project can do in terms of
inspiring the writer.

Best of luck.

Marilyn said...

Life in your summer office sounds glorious.

Patry Francis said...

kristin: Discovery and belonging--and occasionally just a little torture. I wrote 80 pages, scrapped it and started again. Wrote 103 pages and repeated the process. I've now begun AGAIN, but really feel I'm riding the right train this time. We writers are a tenacious breed, aren't we? Some might even call it stubborn.

mardou: You will! I know you will! (Though hopefully, NOT including the torture phase described above.)

kitty: How wonderful to "see" you! Hope the writing and the waitressing (?) are going well.

sally crawford: I just came back from New York where various parks and courtyards and even the stone steps of St. Patrick's Cathedral also proved to be great summer offices. Now I just have to find out what a ThinkPad is...

Hi Marilyn! I'm imagining summer in your town...it must be equally glorious.

Sally Crawford said...

Hi, Patry,

It's an IBM laptop, much like yours I imagine, but with wires sticking out of it.

I managed to charge up the battery yesterday - AND to release the battery housing - so progress is being made.

My real triumph will be when I'm familiar enough with its ways to take it to the park!

Sally (please call me by my first name)

KATE EVANS said...

Lovely post.

Sweet sweet summer.

As a teacher the rest of the year, I understand the summer writing world.

Patry Francis said...

Sally: Oh, a laptop! How wonderful. I got my first this summer, and I love it so much I wake up in the middle of the night to make sure it's still there.

Kate: Happy to see you here, and even happier to know you're savoring the summer months as much as I am.

reality said...

I had to check your blog after all the comments I recently saw on Therese and Lisa's Eudaemonia For all blog.
I have enjoyed visiting this place and hope to be here more often.
May the muse be with you.

Lorna said...

How wonderful for you---I keep checking your site because my blogroll tells me that everybody has been inactive since January 20, 2005, and credulous though I usually am, I reject this notion and poke around. It was worth the wait to see your co-workers and read how things have fallen into place for you

Avus said...

Now that's what I call a good philosophy for work. Nice office and pleasant co-workers (quiet, friendly and un-threatening)

Judy Thomas said...

Good for you, Patry. I'm looking forward to the new book. And, I'm looking forward to getting MY summer office ready... right now the pool's in SUCH bad shape, I only go out in the yard to refill the feeders and mow. But.. the new liner should be ordered this week and life will be good again :-)

musing said...

I'm envious but very happy for you. :-)

Pearl said...

Glad you've found your groove. Great looking coworkers. :)

paris parfait said...

I'm so pleased you're enjoying your writing - and in such a lovely setting! Hope you're having an absolutely wonderful summer creating. xo

Anonymous said...

I'm thrilled for you, Patry. Your backyard is the perfect spot to birth this novel. I laughed out loud when I saw the tablecloth. Should we not write like the gentlewomen we sometimes pretend to be?

It sounds like the best summer possible.

xoxoTish

SusansPlace said...

You inspire me! I first heard of your book when I was reading at Colleen's (LooseLeafNotes)blog...so I immediately ordered it. Kudos to you for a fantastic page-turner that made me think about life choices.

I am inspired by your outdoors office. I start a freelance writing course in September and hope to send a few chapters of my novel to a publisher...still learning how to do that. I am in the midst of a divorce(after 22 years my husband decided he was still in love with his college sweetheart) and trying to figure out how to support the four children and homeschool. I want to support myself and kiddos through writing.

Now that I've bared my soul let me get back to my original intent. I simply want to say thanks for the inspiration and thanks for the shot of "go get em" that reading your blog gave me this afternoon.

Susan

rdl said...

Hey you've just received an award over at my place.

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

I'm in a similar fix, Patry: a summer lag in blogging and an unexpected downturn in freelance assignments force me to do what I really want: write fiction. Have a great summer!

Maryanne Stahl said...

hello patry

I'm so glad I finally stopped by. I love this blog, and I so admire and envy your summer office!

during the school year, I am so caught up in work I let nearly all my writing connections go. actually, that's been the case for a few years now...(I won't get into personal laments!) but this summer, I started a blog (after resisting for sooo long) and have been reading others' blogs and I am SO glad.

goddess-speed to you!

Caroline said...

Sounds perfect.
Cx

Patry Francis said...

reality: Thanks for visiting. Therese and Lisa are two of my favorite- friends-who-I've-never-met.

Lorna: Thanks for stopping by after I've been idle so long. I hope to get back to writing and reading blogs more in the fall.

Avus: One thing about working alone is the blissful absence of office politics.

Judy: Gives new meaning to the phrase "office pool". I'm jealous--particularly on humid days like today.

musing: Thanks. Love your new photo...

pearl: Good to see you here. Thank you.

Tish: No flower in a vase though...you've still got me beat for style.

tara: wishing you the same in your own "summer office" in Paris.

susan: Thanks so much for ordering the book, and welcome. Peace to you and your children in this challenging time, and much luck with your writing. I hope to connect more in the future.

r: How cool! Thank you. xox

Richard: I can't think of a better fix to be in. Hope you're enjoying it as much as I am.

maryanne: Thrilled to see you in the blogoshere!

caroline: From my recent visit to your place, it sounds like you're spending your summer in similar bliss.

sue said...

Looks like a heavenly office! I especially like the office "mates"... :)

Mary Sheehan Winn said...

Love being a hermit artist type. Living in my head .Awesome office and companions.
Glad you're back.

Sally Crawford said...

'I love it so much I wake up in the middle of the night to make sure it's still there.'

Patry, this is so writerly.

To love one's instrument as a cellist loves his cello; as a flautist loves her flute.

I don't yet love my laptop fully but I am getting there. As for my desktop . . . it is my orchestra!

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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