Remember summer vacation?
Back in the days when I was a fundraising consultant, the period from Thanksgiving to mid-January was my slow time. End of the year direct mail appears had already gone out, events were wrapped up, grant proposal deadlines met. I don’t remember taking time off, though. I used those weeks to create my marketing plan for the coming year and try to get my paperwork in order for taxes. Just how long that down time lasted depended on how good a year my clients had: the worse their end-of-year numbers, the earlier they called me in January.
Now that I’m writing, I don’t have a clear down time. There are a lot of writing conferences, festival and residencies during the summer. I guess the assumption is that without the packed school year calendar, writers have more free time. One friend is teaching at the Iowa Summer Writers Festival. Another is doing a residency at SUNY Stonybrook. I’m going to Writer’s Digest Conference in New York. Many writers fill up their summers selling books at outdoor festivals, but books about grief are not in big demand when people are walking around in shorts and tank tops. That’s okay; other places are more appropriate.
I still tend to look at my ‘year’ as a school year rather than a calendar year. So while I’m technically on summer break, I’m gearing up for the fall. My time is being split between marketing and working on the next book.
In order to figure out where I am in the research part of that book, I’ve been reading more and organizing the research already done. Like the Hogwarts Sorting Hat, I’m assigning women to different chapters. By the end of the month, I’ll know where the gaps are. While I do that, I’m also reaching out to find marketing opportunities for all of my books. That includes networking more with local writers’ organizations and online groups.
I’m spending more time promoting the public speaking side of my business. I made several presentations in May, and that inspired me to schedule more. Here’s a link to the topics. With an eye towards 2018, I’m already confirming events through May.
I’m even serving as a judge for the Christopher Hewitt Award for Creative Nonfiction, an award I won in 2015. This is a first for me and I’m looking forward to reading the entries.
So, no, it doesn’t really sound like a vacation, does it? But as I wrote a few weeks ago about self-care for writers, I do my best to take breaks to relax and recharge. The past week, because of my birthday, that has included a significant number of red velvet cupcakes.
Do I miss summer vacations, the way they were when I was a kid? Sure, who doesn’t? I remember reading a lot, checking out the maximum number of books from the library every time. I remember catching lightning bugs in the backyard and toasting marshmallows after my father barbecued.
I still check out a lot of library books (I have six right now that I’m reading). I watch the lightning bugs instead of trapping them in glass jars. So not that much has changed.
But toasting marshmallows…that’s something that needs my immediate attention.