summer heat

In the midst of the hot summer days, there are only two options—write, or don’t write. 

It is the heat that does this to me; it presses down on my skin and my thoughts, making everything stickier. Summer heat reshapes the way I think, and move, and exist, so that I cannot live as usual. The world narrows and becomes simpler. I can only sustain my focus for a limited period of time.  

On the Writing Days, I wake with my mind afire. I roll out of bed and brew my coffee, then head to the computer and begin to write. The words dance within me. They are alive, and flow straight from my mind to the tips of my fingers. Or perhaps I do not start right away, but later in the day. I wake and drink coffee and run errands. But in the midst of something—washing the dishes, or taking a walk through the forest—something catches my mind and sparks the feeling. I feel the words beneath my skin, roiling with the need to get out. There is a story there, if only I can find the right words to share it.

When I have my Writing Days, it doesn’t matter where I am; I can write anywhere. In my car while I wait for my coffee order. On the side of the trail in the woods. In my kitchen while the water boils. (For coffee: yes, I do drink a lot of coffee, don’t you?) In a notebook. On my phone. On my computer. On the old typewriter I salvaged from a yard sale two years ago. I can, and do, write anywhere. There are the days when writing brings me to life, and I feel that it saves me.

But there are other days: the Wordless Days. 

Those days are more common, I have found. These are the days when I wake with nothing in my mind—nothing but the light of the sun on my sheets and the cool air from the fan on my skin. There are no words on those days, just the unspeakable feeling of the universe surrounding me. 

On Wordless Days—and though I do not have words on those days, they are still beautiful—I live the world more fully. Stories are just stories, and the shape of existence is beyond the scope of a single tale. I go for long walks and relish the shape of the clouds. I watch a new television show and laugh with delight at the plot twists. I look out my window and across the rooftops of the nearest houses and wonder at the shapes of the lives inside. 

The Wordless Days are not wasted days. They are days when I am me, more than anyone else. I do not wear the shape of a character or speak with the voice of the spirits. I am myself, and only myself. It is a nourishing feeling. 

But life does not always allow me to be myself, with or without the words. 

Sometimes I do not have that freedom. Some days my brain is full of words and the urgency to write. This could be a Writing Day! And yet I cannot sit and write—I have to work, and send emails, and coordinate my schedule—so that I cannot find the time or space to put pen to paper. Sadly, this means that I do not have a chance to write until the very end of the day. And often, by that time, the words have vanished from my mind. 

And sometimes I do have the time to write! I have whole days, here and there, when I have the time and space to craft a story. I plan these days out, make sure that my schedule is free and clear. I look forward to them for weeks on end. And then, when they arrive, the words are not there. I sit down in front of my computer, ready to crafted and create, and yet…there are no words. They have vanished from me, and no matter how hard I try, I cannot make them come. 

Yet, for the most part, the summer is easier. Time moves slower. The Writing Days come to me more frequently. Stories brew in my mind like stormclouds, like a bitter cup of coffee, and I cannot wait to take them up. 

The days of midsummer are hot and sticky. They cling to my skin. And beneath the weight of the summer air, I either sink into the sea of words, or I sail across it, untouched and triumphant.