I’ll be away for a while this summer, not on vacation or at some retreat but in a staring-at-the-ceiling (or the stars) reverie, re-entering that space where identity and time are fluid, if just because nights are warmer and something in me knows that a summer night is one long dream.
And I admit, there will be small … side trips. I’ve been thinking of how some summers when I was young were a series of obsessions: learning to type, and then making newsletters. Or going out in the dark to filch roses from nearby bushes so I could fill jars with petals that never quite dried. Or playing Monopoly until no one could stand it, and moving on to Scrabble or tag.
So many games and adventures began with a ringleader saying: Let’s. Let’s sneak onto the golf course and pick up balls. Let’s see how many Popsicles we can eat. Let’s hide in a crawl space and play cards till someone finds us.
What does this have to do with writing? Nothing and everything. Some part of summer’s expansiveness has to spill into the way we write, and maybe it’s time to let sensuality and imagination overtake us and see what happens.
So let’s. Let’s experiment. Let’s pretend the list below is a treasure map—or a series of writing prompts. Three, two, one… Go!
Climb to the top of a grassy hill and roll down.
Get up at sunrise on the solstice to watch the longest day of the year begin, then linger outside as sunset becomes twilight and watch till the final drop of daylight disappears into the dark.
Lie on our stomachs in the grass and watch the intricate rituals of ants.
Sit outside whispering in the dark.
Let's write aerogrammes to imaginary selves that live in Paris or the South Pacific.
Listen to waves and wind.
Or drive with the windows down and the heat turned up to a place where the stars are too thick to count.
Let's make up stories about our past lives and write them in locked diaries.
Let's dye our lips and tongues blue with berries.
Go barefooted all day.
Sit under trees and listen for wisdom.
Let’s write love notes to ourselves and our cats and our books and our favorite places.
Throw wildflower seeds on bare patches of ground.
Stop to admire dandelions growing up through sidewalk cracks.
Let's walk around the block backwards.
Make forts out of card tables and blankets and go in and write.
Let’s take our laptops out to the patio or porch or park and transcribe the language of night.
Let’s buy packs of index cards and write a word we love on each card, then shuffle them into poems.
Pretend we know we’re being spied on and find private places to write, out of the reach of recorders and cameras, even our own, even the ones on our phones and computers, even the ones we trust.
Let’s write in the margins of books and on our hands and on cocktail napkins.
Let's write in invisible ink and code, as if our secrets were precious.
Let’s sip mugwort tea and dream.
Let’s read with a flashlight under the covers.
Let’s fill ourselves up and write each other letters about what we've tasted.
Let’s write like it’s summer, like it’s play.
And if you’re in a part of the world where it’s not summer, come join us anyway, in your sweaters and hats.
(Grass image by sundaykofax, patio image by ahdummy, cocktail napkin by Listen Missy!, all via Flickr.)