Today’s post has a soundtrack: that classic rock song Hot Fun in the Summertime by Sly and the Family Stone. Feel free to hum along.
I went to school in the “write a theme” era. I liked to write so that didn’t bother me.
Except the first week of every school year.
Every year, it was always the same. That dreaded command from the teacher: “Write a theme about how you spent your summer vacation.”
You see, my parents worked hard just to make ends meet. There was nothing in the family budget for vacations of any sort. My summers were always spent the same way: working at the farm in the kitchen garden. Our kitchen garden was humongous because it provided food for the entire year.
In the spring, we kids helped plant the garden. Then came the weekends we spent attacking the weeds with the sharp blade of a hoe. When school was out, every day was spent at the garden, keeping the weeds away from the plants, picking the peas — 2 or 3 varieties, beans — string beans and 2 varieties of butterbeans, squash, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, corn, and eggplant plus other veggies.
Of course, everything that was picked had to be: washed, shelled or cut up, then canned and/or frozen. The days were endless, and the work never ending. All these years later, just writing about it makes me remember how exhausted I was at the end of each day.
There may have been hot fun in the summertime somewhere in the world, but it wasn’t in the rural area where I grew up. A theme about how I spent my summer? Why not just copy the paper I wrote the year before or the year before that?
Imagination Training Camp
I think working those endless days were a training camp for my imagination. When you’re moving from squash plant to squash plant, picking the vegetables that seemed to grow larger before your very eyes, there was nothing to do but think. That was when I started making up stories in my head and letting them play like a movie.
I’ve set several of my books in the summertime. I guess because I grew up in Louisiana where the summers offered blistering days, spectacular sunsets, and sultry nights. Heat is almost like a character in that it can affect the mood, the temper, and even affect how one dresses which can lead to all sorts of problems. Just take a look at my romantic comedy The Trouble With Love when by-the-book Deputy Susannah Quinn dons a bikini!
Bet You’re Wondering
My summers did get better as I grew up. There were summers when I traveled to other countries like the Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Italy, France — oh, and Disney World. *g* Perhaps the lack of vacations when I was growing up prompted my love of travel.
Then there’s this summer when I traveled a lot — on the road from the house I sold to our weekend home where I moved my office. Back and forth from the Houston-area to the Texas Hill Country. Now, I’m ensconced up on the hill, watching the grass grow — when there’s rain — and watching it burn to a crisp when there’s not a drop of precipitation in sight.
Grab A Free Book
Whatever you do this summer, enjoy it. For everyone who comments on this post, from now through Sunday midnight, I’m offering a free copy of The Trouble With Love from Smashwords. Just make a comment and leave your email address if you want a copy of this romantic comedy that’s hotter than a bowl of Texas chili.
Joan Reeves writes sassy, sexy Romantic Comedy. Her books are available at all major ebook sellers with audio editions available at Amazon, Audible.com, and iTunes. Joan publishes Writing Hacks, a free subscription newsletter for writers, and Wordplay, a free subscription newsletter for readers. Info? Visit SlingWords or Joan’s Website.