Last week I received some long hoped-for good news: my university awarded me a generous summer research grant to work on the next draft of a novel. When I submitted my application in October, I included a proposed timeline of May and June. But now there’s another challenge, beyond that of the actual writing.
Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to be a guest in classes taught by a colleague. As a part of her Religion & Literature courses, she assigned my poetry collection, Your Twenty-First Century Prayer Life. I visited both of her sections twice, with the one class session focused on the first half of the book and the other session focused on the second half.
The other night on Twitter, a writer vented her frustration with building her author platform via social media and how that activity takes energy from the same pool as her energy for writing. She said that she feels less able to do the slow thinking and creative work necessary in first drafts and in deep revisions.
People offered suggestions: set aside a narrow window for social media promotion and then move on; hire someone to do it; and some said not to even bother with it at all. Several people complained about their publisher pressuring them to keep building their platforms.
The piano was one of my first loves. When I was three, I wrote my first song on it: “All My Bombs.” I grew up in the Cold War-era, Russia still an existential threat. But in those keys of the old player piano, there was magic. I loved to slide open the horizontal drawers and watch the hammers hit the strings as I plunked notes.
When I think back to the activities my dad and I shared, I remember playing catch with the baseball in the front yard after dinner. I remember biking to the baseball field by the elementary school playground, and my dad hitting grounders and flyballs to me. After a while, it was my turn for batting practice. Those were glorious evenings in the spring and summer.