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Doing The Best She Can

May 2, 2011

Look what I got in the mail last week!  All the Pretty People by Ariel Gore, illustrated by yours truly!  I am VERY proud to be part of this small, but powerful book.  It’s so beautiful, so personal, and so good.  It’s available for purchase from Ariel’s blog, but soon to be available from Microcosm and Amazon.  I will keep you posted.

While researching for another project, I found these lines from Ariel about her working on writing:

I tell the therapist I’m passionate about books and I’ve written quite a few of them and people are constantly asking me how I have time for all this writing, all these books, all this passion. I tell her that they seem impressed.

She doesn’t seem impressed.

She asks me if I feel like a fraud. I am not terribly impressed myself, but I do not feel like a fraud. Why would I feel like a fraud?

I write while I’m driving. This is probably rather dangerous. Worse than being on the cell phone, really. But I try to be careful. I write in my head and then I speak it out loud so I won’t forget it and then I jot it down at red lights.

This is why I do not take the freeway.

I learned to do this when my daughter was small and the car seat provided the only respite. Later, she got a plastic car and tooled around our concrete backyard muttering half-lines of poetry as she turned the wheel because she understood that this was how you drive. You drive muttering and then you write at red lights. I don’t even look down at the notebook in my lap as I scribble because the person behind me inevitably starts raging on his horn if the light turns green and I don’t budge. So I keep my eye on the signal, hoping it will stay red just a little bit longer, and I write in a shorthand that’s part English, part Chinese, part random symbolism. Arrows and circles and plus signs and ankhs and a cursive that would make my third grade penmanship teacher weep.

It’s pretty hard to decipher it all when I get home, but I’m doing the best I can.

I have a few extra copies of All The Pretty People and was wondering if anybody would like one?  So how about starting the week off right and giving away a copy?  Just comment below.  Tell me how you work, tell me when you get things done, how you get things done, why you get things done.  Or just say hi.  I’ll announce a winner on FRIDAY. (Give away closed!)

  1. May 2, 2011 6:05 am

    I love Ariel Gore. I had my second childe four weeks ago and an rediscovering when I can get things done. Would love to add her new book to my list of things to read.

  2. May 2, 2011 9:46 am

    I don’t ‘work’ I do run a home and educate my children (does that count!!) I like to doodle and make things. I do this inbetween everything else so everything I do is small!! Everything is done bit by bit.

  3. Kim permalink
    May 2, 2011 1:10 pm

    Oh, Summer. I haven’t been able to finish anything since my mother died. And that was two years ago. And I wasn’t even very close to the woman.

    Some days I wash dishes and some days I don’t. I have been trying to mow my lawn the past two weeks, but we’ve had so much rain. It was nice last Thursday, but when I tried to start to start the mower, the cord snapped. So the mower was in the shop over the weekend while the weather was nice. I’ll get it back today, but it’s pouring rain again. My garden has not been planted yet. I have two laundry baskets full of mending. I wrote a zine last September and I still haven’t bound the copies. I bought new mini blinds for my family room over a year ago which are still in boxes. But I did read “Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness” last year, so I am very interested in checking out Ariel Gore’s new book!

    I like reading your blog. You get things done. It makes me hopeful. Maybe I should go throw some laundry in the washing machine now…

  4. May 2, 2011 1:14 pm

    I get things done at night and on the weekends. Sometimes I’m not sure how I fit everything into the day, but I’d much rather be busy than not, so I figure that it’s a good thing.

  5. Michelle Robb permalink
    May 2, 2011 1:51 pm

    I think Summer Pierre is a constant inspiration to all of us trying to balance life.

  6. mumsyjr permalink
    May 2, 2011 2:25 pm

    I make “Mommy minutes” through out the day- even days when my daughter is at school, and/or I am at work or school. Fifteen minute bursts of creativity. Sometimes I only get one a day. Other times I can manage as many as three. Sometimes I have blog post at the end (this is why my blog posts have terrible grammar and are also kind of choppy or meandering). Sometimes I have a rough draft for a poem, or I’ve made a dent in the collage I’ve been working on for a friend (for about a year now), or I’ve hemmed some pants or chopped up a t-shirt into a library bag. Other times I don’t actually DO anything in that space, I just be. That’s what I have trouble making time for: the NOT doing.

  7. May 2, 2011 2:46 pm

    I have a long train ride twice a day now. I consider it my office. Now the trick is to get myself to close my book, put down my knitting, take off my headphones and WRITE. Some days I even do.

  8. Cindy permalink
    May 2, 2011 2:55 pm

    I work best at home in a chaise lounger with a super-comfy down comforter on top. I work best at night – on the weekends, I would prefer to write rather than go out on the town for an evening. I also carry around index cards for random bits of inspiration that may come to me, and then I keep them in an index box for when they are needed.

  9. May 2, 2011 3:26 pm

    I’m usually up until about 3am Saturday and Sunday mornings because weekend nights are when I seem to have enough time to focus on my art. Whereas I’m usually exhausted on the weekdays when I have to work my day job and in bed at a reasonable hour, I totally lose track of time when I’m creating and inspired and don’t even think about the time or fatigue. I try to do all my household chores bit by bit on the weeknights so I can spend the weekends doing things I enjoy.

  10. Melissa permalink
    May 2, 2011 4:11 pm

    I work full time and my husband stays home with our son. Since I have limited time with them nights and weekends, my lunch hour is my time to write and read.

  11. May 2, 2011 4:47 pm

    I have definitely written parts of songs in my car at traffic lights…when inspiration comes, you have to take it! I also find making to-do lists and setting goals essential these days, or else I am likely to get sucked into some meaningless thing like Facebooking or watching television. The secret for me is just *starting* — once I start, whether it’s writing, art or music, it’s easy to get into the zone. But the starting part is the hardest.

  12. May 2, 2011 6:42 pm

    I write between putting the Critter to sleep and my night shift of paid work. It’s not a good time to write, with the stress of all that I have to do at night looming, looming. Plus, what about the evenings (such as on this past Friday and Saturday) when I just want to hang out with my husband? I have to change my life. But how?

  13. sylvia permalink
    May 2, 2011 6:55 pm

    hi summer! i’m a huge fan of your work, first of all. second, i get things done by taking two three- to four-hour naps, waking up disgruntled in the middle of the night, not being able to go back to sleep, working on my art projects (zines for now) and writing to-do lists for the next day, and then taking another two-hour nap before my cat starts yowling at me and telling me to do things he really doesn’t want done, like opening the door for him or whatnot. sigh. such is life. thank you for writing in your blog regularly. it’s a great read.

  14. May 2, 2011 10:54 pm

    Hi Summer! Awesome – congrats! I’d love a copy. The question you ask that struck me is WHY you get things done….

    I get visions in my head. A physical book, a room with a particular color paint, the shape of a garden. Along with the vision — a drive to see it through. This often wrecks my sleep schedule, gets me scribbling away at the edges of time I promised away to others, compels me to create on my own that which other perhaps saner folk would wait to find a team to build. Once the creation is realized, there is a particular satisfaction, and also a clearing… as each vision makes its way into reality, space is created for something new, which is not simply another project but my own growth.

  15. Sarah permalink
    May 3, 2011 2:24 am

    Such endlessly fascinating questions (especially the why). It’s what I always want to ask artists, writers, mothers, academics…. So, thank you.

    How is during naps, after baby-bedtime, when the babysitter is here for a few stray hours each week. Great effort not to spend that time pattering around the internet, reading novels, answering emails, etc. I try to make notes about where I left off, so I can start right in again as soon as I’m able. Why is a harder question. Because the work is really interesting to me. Fear: the general, inchoate, not-about-anything-in-particular kind. A place to put my mind.

  16. May 3, 2011 4:32 pm

    I love reading your blog Summer. You always turn me onto new and interesting people. I actually get motivated to do things from reading your blog. I think “if she can do all this great stuff with a baby, I can certainly do more than I already do without one!”

    Keep writing/creating!

  17. May 3, 2011 9:08 pm

    Looks beautiful, Summer. If I don’t win a copy I’ll head over Ariel’s blog. Heck, I’ll head over there now!

  18. May 4, 2011 4:48 am

    Hey Summer, a little while ago I blogged about those perfect Mondays when you start the work week fresh and somehow that momentum spills over into other areas of your life:

    That pretty much sums up my work style – I write furiously, in bursts of amazing productivity or not at all. You might notice from the date that I haven’t blogged since then, not have I started on any of the short stories or creative non-fiction for competitions whose deadlines are looming over the next couple of months. I had another good Monday this week though, where I finally managed to knock out a feature that had been hanging over my head at work and the experience taught me two things, 1) productive Monday lives!, 2) I work best with lots of little breaks – most of my best sentences for that feature came to me on tea, toilet or fresh air breaks which (in frustration) I was taking every two hours, and 3) anything is better than nothing – this works better for work stuff than my own, as work stuff *has* to get done so despite my best efforts at procrastination, I eventually get down to the writing and am often pleasantly surprised by the results – no one but me will know if I don’t finish that short story or enter that writing comp, so when fruitless perfectionism strikes I often just skip it altogether, which means missing out on the truth behind that old writerly adage that “the worst thing you write is better than the best thing you don’t…” x

  19. May 4, 2011 4:54 am

    I guess it taught me three things – this is why I prefer words over numbers!

  20. May 4, 2011 8:13 pm

    dear, dear, Summer,
    this is my moment Summer to get in contact with you. Thank you for your invitation, it was in my “getting things done head” for a long time. Two weeks ago I went to the doctor. I am rather tired for a long time. It was a very very shocking experience. I had to go to the hospital immediately. My blood was and is still not OK. My life has turned upside down. Today is my birthday (04-05-’59) and I want to celebrate with you (and the people who read this mail) that I am still alive a n d that you meant so much for me in the hospital. Thanks to your book I decided to be “the artist in the hospital” and that helped me so much in this difficult time of my life. I made little zines that I made from material that I “found” around my hospital-bed and gave them away. The future is very unsure for me at the moment. Your blog and my inspiration are there. I am very grateful for that. Thank you so much Summer!!! Ellen from Amsterdam.

  21. Mary B. permalink
    May 4, 2011 9:54 pm

    I get things done with sticker charts. They work as my best motivation. And it means I still get to play with stickers. Win win.

    Right now I’m working on a sweater, buying new strings for my guitar, putting together my wedding album, finishing a study guide for a local theatre, and domestic stuff. School just finished. I am on my own schedule now.

  22. Sara B. permalink
    May 5, 2011 1:53 am

    I used to be productive sometimes, but now I’m just not. Ever. At least it feels that way most of the time, since I always seem to be doing two things at once to get the minimum done! I blame it on having two young kids, but there’s probably more to it, sigh. Anyway, at least my kids are happy and healthy! Can’t wait to read the book! xoxo

  23. May 5, 2011 5:39 am

    Since Easter I have a part-time job instead of a full-time jobs. This means that I earn a lot less and I start at 11:30 (instead of 08:30) and end at 17:30. That’s a great change in my life, my alarm clock wakes me up at 7, I have breakfast and get dressed and then I do my crochet for my etsy shop before going to work. Before this change I used to clean the house, wash & iron, prepare lunch and THEN create my stuff after dinner when I was tired… It’s sooooo different now!! Now I create more and better 🙂

  24. May 5, 2011 1:58 pm

    Yay! I love you, i love ariel and i love to read. Its a win win win!

  25. Darcy permalink
    May 5, 2011 2:54 pm

    Hey Summer. I don’t know when I have time to slip in some creative tasks, but I try as best I can. I’m writing a book, but I haven’t gotten past the first chapter since the only time I can write is after the girls go to bed and by then I’m too zonked to think. But I know these days will pass, and I will be happy I spent most of my waking hours at my job (which I love) or with my family (which I love more).

    Anyway, hope to win the book!

  26. May 5, 2011 3:01 pm

    I get things done with a pink notebook full of lists and frantically jotted notes, plus most of the day on Saturday to write and craft and do whatever it is I need to do to make those ideas become something. It’s not a lot of time but it’s what I’ve got and it’s working to the degree I need it to work right now.

    I love your list of things to do this year, and I especially love how you’re open to changing up what you expect to complete in order to accommodate the realistic challenges each represents.

  27. May 5, 2011 7:31 pm

    I wants me a book! I go to work…like a doctor. When I rock the mic you gotta like… Okay, so I’m not a doctor or a rapper. I am in order of most to least important (1) mother; (2) writer / zine-maker; (3) observer and thing-finder; (4) librarian. And a few other things in there too. I juggle more than I should and rarely get any one thing finished though I have found that motherhood (my soon is now five) and the ensuing lack of “me” time has pushed me to write and create more whenever I can find the time (including when I’m at my pay job–doh!) xo, celia

  28. May 5, 2011 11:38 pm

    How do I get things done? In inspired busts. I used to think this meant I was erratic and/or lazy the rest of the time. This might still be true but I am learning to accept it as my work style… which helped tremendously when my daughter was born! For the first year of her life she was a cat-napper, which meant I had a series twenty minute windows of opportunity to use however I liked. I tried to ignore the “shoulds” (especially when it came to housework) and just do things that made me happy, like read or write or make art. Some times, I succeeded!
    As to why I do what I do? This is a question I am trying not to ask myself, especially as I can’t really apply many outward measures of “success” to the things that make me happy. Actually, I think that’s it: I just do them because they are one of the few things I get to do in a day that make me, and me alone, happy.

  29. Kim permalink
    May 6, 2011 1:10 am

    How DO I get things done?….with infant twins and now back to work full-time, I don’t know some days….but I would love to read this book!

  30. May 6, 2011 8:07 am

    I had some blog problems and internet issues! Can I try again!!
    I’d love to win this book, if not it will go on my wish list 🙂

    I love your blog and feel very inspired to create – even if what I make is’nt perfect, its about doing something. I home educate my children so everything is done in short bursts!

  31. May 6, 2011 2:45 pm

    Hi! This past year I realized I was doing a lot of list making, but never getting any of it done. I decided to break it down into steps and focus on the top 3 things. (instead of “send thank you note to Sue”, I wrote down the small things I needed to do to accomplish the bigger item: “buy thank you cards at target”, “buy stamps” and 3rd “write thank you to card to Sue”.
    One rule I made was to always have 1 of the things be FUN vs a chore! “stop at Blick’s art supplies to use coupon”.
    I’ve never read anything of Ariel’s – I’m excited to check her out!

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