pivot from summer vacation to fall

Question of the Month: Pivot

by Susan Henderson on September 3, 2012

Tell me about your pivot from summer to fall, from vacation back to work.

Summer is almost over. I know this because there are acorns out where we’ve been barbecuing and because my kids are now very sensitive when I mention things like summer AP assignments and alarm clocks. It’s time to make the pivot from vacation to work, though I don’t feel quite ready for it. It’s been a good summer—nice to slow down and be with my family for larger chunks of the day, especially now that my kids are older and have a number of friends and activities to pull them away from home. So before I turn fully toward autumn, here’s one more look back at summer…

The beginning of my summer took a big shift when we learned my 16-year-old would be skipping his junior year and going directly into 12th grade in the fall. All of a sudden there were tests to take and colleges to visit. This was a real emotional letting-go for me. The window of time for my kids to be living at home already felt too short. But what I learned watching my son study for these tests and stroll through college campuses discussing theoretical math with professors is that he’s ready.

Once the college business was out of the way, there was plenty of downtime. The kids were busy with girlfriends and swimming and wandering through town with their friends. They took trains and subways on their own, searching out music stores, festivals, and pizza shops. They got busy with various projects—bottle rockets, a homemade Moog synthesizer, and pants made from duct tape. We visited the grandparents in Hawaii. And both boys went to camp—my 16-year-old to John’s Hopkins CTY camp for Number Theory…

…and my 15-year-old to Berklee College of Music for Guitar Sessions. Here is some of his ensemble work (click here if the embedded video doesn’t show:

The boys played a number of gigs—a Who tribute concert, a funk & reggae show, and a parade. I accompanied my oldest as a chaperone on his School of Rock AllStars tour, traveling to places like Webster Hall, Ryle’s Jazz Club, and the Gathering of the Vibes festival.

Meanwhile, my youngest went with a friend to the Dream Theater and Crimson ProjeKct concert, where he got to visit back stage with Adrian Belew and the oh-so-talented Julie Slick.

Mr. H had some great gigs, as well, and it all culminated over Labor Day weekend at our annual BBQ of Rock, where family and guests jammed all night. (As always, if you want to see the bazillions of photos I have of all these events, just friend me on Facebook.)

I’ve been taking summer at an easy pace—a little editing, a few appearances on conference panels, some visits to book clubs and libraries, a trip out to California for the Squaw Valley Alumni Reading Series. In general, though, I dropped work whenever my family asked me to, and I spent a lot of time reading for pleasure, including Wild, The Fault in Our Stars, Gilead, Await Your Reply, Tomato Red, Giovanni’s Room, and Great Expectations. Lots of family movie nights, too. Some favorites: Dr. Strangelove, Stormy Weather, Metropolis, Stand By Me, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, Glory, Rear Window, Good Will Hunting, and The Last King of Scotland.

It’s felt good to slow down and put my writing aside for family. Soon, though, it will be time to get into work mode. How am I making the pivot? I’m starting with a big clean of my office—moving my desk, taking everything off the bulletin board, mopping, removing the clutter. When my boys go back to school, I’ll be anxious to get back to that first draft and take it to the next level.

So let’s hear from you. Tell me about your summer and what your plans are going ahead.


Some thank you’s to those who linked here or talked about my book: Caffeinated College KidPaula BomerRomancing the WriterShine Your LightBirds and BloomsLiterary OlympiadPaperback Swap, Skype-an-Author SeriesBoekloverBook and Media Kristiansand, Reading Room, LeserommetHeather Lambie’s Self Editing, Barnes & Noble, KM BookmarksBokverdami, Drinking Diaries, and One World. A big thanks to NME (New Music Express, over 7 million users a month) for posting the book trailer for UP FROM THE BLUE. How cool is that? And finally, a thank you to Cath Rine, who took this photo at the airport in Oslo, Norway!