One of the things that it seems all of us geeks have in common, is that we spent Summer vacation in activities that looked suspiciously like homework. Just popped over to see what kind of Awesome Uncle Wil posted. BTW, was NOT disappointed. And recalled my own adventures engaged in such activity.
My favorite toy when I was a little kid was my Fisher Price Castle with it purple-robed king and queen, an armored knight (I know there isn't any other kind), blue-robed prince and princess, a teal-garbed footman in the stately plastic carriage complete with a pink and green polka dotted dragon who was unimaginatively named Puff. The castle had a trap door in the turret, a working drawbridge over a moat that could be filled with water to add a touch of realism, a false staircase hiding a dungeon door with creepy eyes peering out and a secret escape route behind the fireplace that lead through a tunnel to the outside of the castle walls where it met a gentle green slope. This was the setting for the first stories I composed at the tender age of five.
And this was the root of my Summer writing habit, the place where my reading and writing choice branched to take me down many roads that seemed to lead further and further away from the silly colors and the simplified decorations of youth to the complexities of adulthood. When I graduated from the living room floor to the soft earth under fluffy clouds, my writing season seemed to grow each year until I was living in a world full of my written words.
We built a new house when I was in high school. well.. We finished it, Dad and I. When my room was done I had a 4x8 panel painted black so that the toll designs that mom taught me might make a signature focal point for my room. It was her idea. And it only took me a few months to hate the permanence of something so unemotional and unimaginative in the middle of my room. I painted over it and started drawing the maps for the worlds that I wanted to write about.
I wrote so much in high school that I wondered if maybe there might have been a future in it. But I think the mages, warriors and the weird little animals wanted to be left out of the public eye. And I didn't really know enough to write conflict well, believably. At the same time, I had graduated from the Hobbit and LotR to Dragonlance and Marion Zimmer Bradley's erotica. The worlds were getting more complex and I spent more time with my music and other authors to learn how to write more grown up conflicts.
But those summers... bed covered in topographic sketches, cool breezes carrying the scent of fresh cut hay and drying horse hockey, colored pencils worn to stubs and character profiles that I had written... I killed so many trees in those languid months. Maybe it is all the cloud dragons and wyvern that come out to play in the Summer that bring the old stories out of our collective consciousness and ask for a fresh coat of paint. You have noticed that Winter clouds aren't as pretty haven't you? Maybe, it is that the mind is quiet without the demands of regurgitated facts and figures, deadlines and research papers that lets these things wander out of the recesses of our creative minds that made Summers so magical. Or maybe Winter is too depressing to be that creative. Of course it is busy with Holidays too so there is some consideration there. I don't know.
And at some point in time you do the grown up thing and put away the sketches, colored pencils and graph paper to work at paying your own bills. True, I did eventually get to the point where I had a studio with cool toys. But that is because one of the people I worked for noticed that I spent all my energy on their kids and not on things that made me happy. And I almost never share the fiction writing with anyone... just the painted stuff. But I didn't share the written art when I was a kid. The writing is where the frustrations came out. Processing the angst and frustrations let me make the happy uplifting art that people want to see.
So some how Summer became the time to purge and process. And it all started because of a plastic pink dragon that wanted to tell someone what he saw going on in and around the castle.