By Cathleen Armstrong
And we turn the calendar page, and suddenly it’s July 14 and summer is half over. How’s that to-do list you started in the cold of last winter coming along? Perhaps it wasn’t quite a list but more like little vignettes that floated through your mind as you bundled up against the icy wind: You sitting outside with a book and a glass of iced tea reading a warm summer afternoon away, you taking your computer and a chair to the beach and sitting on the sand writing for an hour or two before the crowds start showing up, you in sunhat and shorts exploring that quaint little town you intend to use as the setting of your next book. There are probably a lot more of those images. Winter is the best time for summer dreaming.
I hope you’ve checked some of those off your list, maybe all of them. But it’s just as likely, maybe even more so, as you look at that midsummer calendar page, that summer dreams start floating away to be replaced by visions of falling leaves, frosty mornings, and school supply lists.
Not so fast! The first half of summer may have gotten away from you, but there is still half the summer left. And while you have your calendar out, schedule some of those things you dreamed of doing. Write them down with the doctor’s appointments and car tune-ups. If it’s too late to start from the beginning, just start where you are. The middle will work just fine.
Even worse, I think, than the realization that you’ve let half the summer get away without doing those things you always thought you’d do, is the realization that you’ve let half your life get away. And, of course, it’s not at all that you’ve wasted that time. Loving and caring for a family and/or pursuing a career can be richly rewarding, as well as necessary, claims to your time. But there’s that list of dreams, and every now and then, it surfaces. And all too often, with a smile or a sigh, we think I always wanted to… or I always thought by now… and let it drift away.
Again, not so fast! If you haven’t done it by now, now’s the time to begin. I’m a great believer in lists, so start there. What do you want to do? Write a book? Finish a book? Publish one? To coin a phrase, just do it! If you don’t know how, there are books, online classes, workshops, and conferences. If it’s too late to start at the beginning of your life, start in the middle, or wherever you happen to be.
My first novel was released a month before I turned sixty-five. Today I’m writing my sixth book. Do I wish I had started writing decades earlier? Of course, I do. And what does that wishing change? Not a thing. All I can do is the same thing you can do. Start now, in the middle—in the middle of summer, in the middle of a hectic week, in the middle of a raucous family, in the middle of your life. Just write.If it’s too late to start from the beginning, start from the middle. @cathleen_arm #ACFWBlogs #writetip #critiques #ACFWCommunity Click To Tweet
Cathleen Armstrong is the author of the A Place to Call Home series, also known as the Last Chance books. She lives in southern California with her husband, Ed, and near her large and busy family with whom she loves to spend time.
I appreciate your words very much. I do have a question, “What is a word count?” Does that mean I need to write so many words per day, week, month? Not sure how to approach this goal.
Don’t let the moment get away,
for it will not return.
Seize the chance and seize the day;
you have not time to burn
in smoky flame of indolence,
whose crackle is a yawn,
where hell’s reached with the best intents,
and all bright hope is gone.
Chase you dreams across the sky,
but even more, chase love,
for all are born with fate to die,
so pray to God above
that not one more day slips past,
for each may be your sweetheart’s last.