In the Doldrums

The “Summer” that began in mid-March

By Jeff Salter

Topic: We’ve previously discussed how summers typically affect our writing schedules or outputs, but this summer of 2020 was unique in many ways. Tell us whether these unique factors affected your writing… and whether that was to the “good” or the “bad” in terms of output. (JLS)

Wow. Lots to think about with this topic. I had envisioned it might be scheduled around the END of summer, rather than the middle… but I don’t suppose it makes much difference. The die is likely cast for this summer… and here in KY, our summer effectively “ends” before the first week of August, when schools re-open. That’s assuming they’ll re-open at all this year.

I recall last summer (2019) huddling with several of my sprint-mates to help all of us stay “accountable” to do more writing than we’d apparently been inclined to do for one or more previous summers. And I think that effort was reasonably effective. Patricia Kiyono kept us apprised of the weekly commitment and each of us would check in at week’s end to report on our writing progress. It was, of course, in addition to our weekly sprint. That suggestion had arisen when some of us were commiserating about how we’d had such high hopes for ADDITIONAL creative output during the summer months when many of our external obligations were suspended for that season.


This is me… since about mid-March

Well, THIS year – this dreadful, bizarre, disorienting season of CoVid-19 – has been (for me) doldrums without end. In fact, I hardly noticed Spring and Summer — those months have just felt like extensions of the craziness that began in mid-March with all the pandemic restrictions.

Normally, I’d expect that with so many of my external obligations not only “non-essential” but actively restricted by “governorial” edicts… I’d have more time to focus on my writing. HA.

When things began shutting down in mid-March, I was buzzing along with my first draft of my newest novel. I was intent on getting that draft complete before I turned my attention to the hated annual ritual of IRS Tax Preparation.

I also knew I’d soon be receiving the second round of edits on my sequel in the Time-Traveling Cowboy series. But I was not braced for the speed with which the third round of edits and the galley-proofing hit me. Suffice it to say, if the powers-that-be had not seen fit to grant the extension to July 15 for submission of tax returns, I’d likely have been tossed into tax jail.

Well, I did manage to finish that first draft… and hustled my way through the second draft. Submitted that to two Beta Readers, and then I got swamped by the aforementioned edits… plus a lot of personal issues that wrecked my concentration and sapped my emotional energy.

I have not yet completed the final touches on the tax paperwork to deliver to my CPA — though I have an appointment for tomorrow (Fri.) morning to meet with her.

And I have not yet been able to muster the energy or willpower to return to the third draft of that newest manuscript. Once that momentum was wrecked, it seemed to have sucked a bit of creative life out of me.

Plus, I’ve fallen prey (again) to the lure of the TV… to watch some of our favorite British mysteries.

Of course, I began this period (mid-March) with a couple weeks of jaw pain from a difficult molar extraction. That’s never a good way to jump into an entirely “new normal.”

Even though I was not allowed to visit my exercise place for most of 10 weeks, I did do a lot of walking with my wife here on the property: we walked some 43 miles in April, about 55 in May, but only about 28 in June. The June figures were lower because of weather, two sets of company staying over, and me being allowed to return to my exercise place around mid-June.


What have I learned (about myself) in a time when my external demands have been greatly limited?

I tend to drift too much, apparently.

Not able to concentrate as well, it seems.

And… I snack much more than I should!


What about YOU? Has this summer seemed “different” from more typical summers? How?

[JLS # 496]

About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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7 Responses to In the Doldrums

  1. O h. yes, it’s all different, every single thing is different.Now that you pose the question, it almost feels as it did when my mother died:EVERYTHING was suddenly different.
    That is probably what I need: A goal.I do well with goals to meet.I need for someone to keep tabs on me again.It’s been too long.
    More of my souls-searching tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Patricia Kiyono says:

    Concentration and snacking are problems for me, too. And Tonette brings up a good point – life as we knew it changed. When my dad passed away, I was paralyzed for quite a while. This shut-down is an even bigger life change. I normally do well with goals and lists, but lately even those aren’t enough to spur me into action. At least not as much as before. I need to break goals down into tinier ones – instead of “write 1000 words” I need to shoot for “write two scenes” and then hope I get at least part of that done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Funny thing is, as we neared the official Summer months, I thought about contacting you to set up that “Write-in” that we did on Wednesdays (I believe) last summer. But since I haven’t even been able to gear up enough to sprint in months, I guess I didn’t consider it possible that I could resume both activities.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. jbrayweber says:

    Oh, it’s so much different. I love summer and I am trying to keep things as normal as possible. But it’s pretty impossible thanks to Covid. My senior was cheated of her last months of school and we still don’t know if she’s going to “walk the stage” in August when the graduation ceremony was rescheduled. No prom, no parties. We had wanted to take a trip for her. Sadly, it isn’t happening both because of finances and having no place to go. Even day trips are out of the question with everything closed. Beach times has also been reduced. *sigh*

    As for my writing, well, so far I’ve self-edited 2 books and researching for book #3 in the series. I hope to actually start writing very soon.

    But I will admit, my concentration is off kilter. The world has gone absolutely mad. It’s hard to keep focus on fantasy when reality is in jeopardy.

    At any rate, onward and upward!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jeff Salter says:

    Excellent observation about the teeter-totter of fantasy and reality in these crazy times.
    Very sorry that your daughter missed out on the most memorable few months of her senior year. We had a local grandson who was in the same situation. We still don’t know if his college classes will begin next month… and (if so) how “normal” they will be.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Elaine Cantrell says:

    Doldrums. That’s a great word to describe the times.

    Liked by 1 person

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