Summer Goals

This is Emily’s last post with us – we have loved her great contributions!

My goals for the summer are the same as my current writing goals. They are: Find balance and Don’t be lazy.

Finding balance:

Summertime balance with four children at home means having enough activity and structure to be productive (there’s nothing like staring at an empty calendar with children wondering what’s on the agenda), but enough unplanned time to enjoy and chill a little bit. It means having plenty of family time, friend time, and also some me [writing] time.

Writing balance means many things to me. It is being consistent and carving time for myself to write. It means reading as well as writing. More specifically, lately I’ve been thinking about balancing images and action in my writing.

I love reading a well-worded passage. But sometimes you need to hold off on the descriptive imagery and get to the story. Gasp-worthy word choice gets old if that’s all there is—there’s a balance, a dance between imagery and action, and good writing has it.

Not Being Lazy:

Summertime don’t-be-lazy-ness reminds me to get out and make a social effort for my own sake as well as for the kids’ (I tend to hibernate in the hot summer months).

Writing don’t-be-lazy-ness means being deliberate. Avoiding clichés. But it also refers to word choice—to times we may not even realize we’re being lazy.

I have a friend who has two sons with autism.  She’s told me she doesn’t like people telling her she is “amazing” (because she doesn’t feel amazing). For the record, I’m pretty sure I told her she was amazing after learning a little about her life. And I meant it. But I should have been more specific. I should have told her she was gracious under difficult circumstances, or real, funny, hopeful, self-deprecating, and strong. “Amazing” was lazy.

For the first few years of our marriage, my husband’s go-to compliment for me was that I was “wonderful”. I know he meant well, but honestly, the word felt vague. “What does that mean?” I asked him. “That I’m full of wonder? How is that different from being full of baloney?” [Isn’t my husband lucky to be married to me?  Now he includes “detail-oriented” and “over-thoughtful” in his compliment quiver :)]

With my goals in mind, as I write thank you notes to my children’s teachers at the end of this school year, I’m avoiding the well-intentioned, “You are amazing,” and “Thanks for the wonderful teaching,” and being more specific with, “Andrew loved learning about the Declaration of Independence,” and “Thank you for patiently teaching Will to play the ukulele.”

Here’s to a balanced and deliberate [amazing and wonderful] summer.

_________________________________________

Emily Manwaring spent her childhood in Wales, her adolescence in Utah and the time since in England and New Hampshire respectively. She has a degree in English Literature from BYU and currently lives in Northern Utah with her husband and children.  She likes to sleep [mostly she just misses it], read, and write [this makes her sound very lazy].  She is currently working on a picture book series. 

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