Summer – good for the garden, not so good for the writing …

Summer has finally decided to make an appearance and in usual British style, there has been no gradual build-up to the event. No acclimatising ourselves. Just a straight move from sneaking the heating on for half an hour while nobody’s looking to oh-my-god-why-have-we-only-got-one-fan-in-the-house?

The garden, which my husband has been painstakingly redesigning over the past few months, is finally beginning to get the hang of things – flowers are appearing, the grass is lush, birds are singing …

Unfortunately, my writing – already hampered by inconveniences such as the day job, my penchant for procrastination and a remarkable skill for finding distraction activities – now has this new enemy to contend with.

cat in shadeYou would think summer might be a good time for writing, wouldn’t you? In my more optimistic moments, I fantasise about sitting in the garden, penning reams of good stuff with the cat sprawled in the grass by my feet, a decent coffee or a chilled glass of pinot grigio by my side …

Never happens.

It’s not all summer’s fault, although it is hard to be motivated after a day broiling in an office, when all you want to do is flop in the shade and allow the warmth to melt away your troubles.

No, in my case, it’s mainly a problem with computers.

Our main PC is up in our attic room. Generally, this is a reasonable arrangement. If I blinker myself to look only at the screen and ignore being surrounded by the mountains of c**p dumped up there, then I can get something done because although there is no door to the room, it does have an element of distance away from everyday household noise.

But in the summer, by the time I get home from work that room is absolutely stifling, even with the windows open and a fan on. Unbearably so. If I spend more than half an hour up there, I come down resembling a beetroot and start rummaging in the freezer like a madwoman for ice lollies.

So last summer, I treated myself to a small laptop. It’s been a disaster in many, many ways and would make a blog post all by itself – seriously, do not get me started on the store I bought it from, the problems we had with it, the fact that we had to pay someone to sort it out despite it being under guarantee … but I  digress.

gardenThe original idea behind the purchase was that I would be able to sit in the shade in the garden and work/write/blog etc. whilst getting a little sunshine & fresh air.

Unfortunately that hasn’t worked out quite as planned – and not only because of the mental trauma it caused me over the months since I bought it, to the point where I hate the wretched thing on principle.

Firstly, the Wi-Fi doesn’t work too well in the garden so I can’t do much internet/social media stuff out there, just plain old Word. But the main problem is that even in the shade, I can’t see the screen very well, just a reflection of my face. And if I manage to overcome that so I can see well enough to work, everything takes twice as long because of the fiddly mouse button thingy and the smaller keyboard and my notes blowing off down the garden in the breeze and the next door neighbour’s football landing on the table and the still-flapping bird in the cat’s mouth and … you get the picture.

I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I need to do all my internet/social media stuff late at night when the attic has cooled down and if I want to be outside, I’ll have to go back to that time-honoured tradition of notebook and pen. One step forward, two steps back …

How about you? If you write, do you have a favourite outdoor spot that suits your needs? I’d love to hear about it!

15 thoughts on “Summer – good for the garden, not so good for the writing …

  1. Margaret Cullingford says:

    I so identify with your frustration, Helen, about the outdoors not being even laptop-friendly for the reasons you list, but, let’s face it, this is England and the hot weather probably won’t last for much longer. And your solution of pen/pencil and notebook is not such a bad one, all the ideas that may come to you just sitting there daydreaming. Works for me, and we have only a small patio town garden which is nevertheless a delight to relax in.

    • Helen Pollard says:

      I think you’re right, Margaret, I probably won’t have to worry about it for long! The main reason I tend to shy away from pen & paper is typing it up later … struggling to read my own illegible scribblings! Thanks for visiting 🙂

      • Margaret Cullingford says:

        My pleasure Helen – always like to hear about how other writers go about their craft.

  2. Wendy Clarke says:

    I do way less writing in summer for the reasons you’ve said. I used to stress about it but now I go with it. I have an internet booster thing for the garden (not sure it’s a good idea!) and sit on my swing chair in shade but somehow I can’t concentrate as well as inside. What I don’t want to do is wish away the lovely weather though!

  3. Sara Turnquist says:

    I generally write indoors year round. I like the idea of writing outside. I have a nice deck outside that’s shaded in the morning, but my kiddos are out of school and I can barely get away to check Facebook in the morning sometimes! So most of my writing is in the afternoon/evening when the bright sun on the deck or the bugs (in the evening) make it unbearable.

  4. Clare Chase says:

    I’m having an unexpected heat-related issue, in that my laptop seems to basically give up if the temperature’s over 25 degrees or so… Still, UK summers tend to be rather short-lived, so I’m guessing I’ll be back on track soon!

  5. Patricia Kiyono says:

    We have a screened in porch that’s perfect when it’s not too hot. Normally a nice breeze helps to keep it comfortable, and I can shut out the sound of the television (hubby has to have it on the entire time he’s awake) and I can escape the wretched air-conditioning (it has its uses, but again, hubby sets it at a temperature that works for him, so rather than bundle up in sweat pants and two sweaters I go out to the porch. Right now we’re having our two weeks of hot summer temps so I’m bundling up and using headphones.

  6. Kathy says:

    I certainly agree on the difficulties of writing outside. I’ve done it a couple of times in desperation for a change of scenery but the reflection on the screen makes it terribly difficult. I hope you manage to find a good spot for your laptop indoors and solve this problem.

  7. Dyanne says:

    I couldn’t help smiling as I read your post, Helen, since I can readily identify with most of what you said. I am just now coming off a 6-week writing hiatus, okay, I’ve not really come off it yet since I’ve not actually written anything, but at least I’m thinking about it. There are a lot of distractions this time of year and your pen and notebook in the garden sounds like it will be a great way to get some words down. Now, I need to go design a garden and find a comfy chair, and maybe get a hanging plant or two for the porch. Oh, and look over there, the patio table needs cleaning and I should really wash off the chairs. Distraction, sweet distraction.

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