Writing Tip — Writing in Time — June

class-1986501_1280More than January, I feel like June is the start of new things, the month of great possibilities. With the end of the school year and the beginning of summer vacation, the month signals throwing off our normal routines and preparing ourselves for something new.

June seems perfect for starting an adventure story, especially if your main character is a kid or a teen. The freedom from school seems to call for a story where something radically different or exciting happens to the main character. You can have the story take place over a summer, wrapping up before school starts and normal life takes over again.

one-hundred-days-baby-1616112_1280Father’s Day is in June.  It can be a setting for exploring male relationships within a family. Like I wrote in May for Mother’s Day, you can write a story, only set on Father’s Day over a number years, to show how the male characters change.

This year the summer solstice is on June 21. Many traditions are associated with this solar event, making it a perfect time for a story of speculative fiction or historical fiction. In the little bit of research I did, I read in The Summer Solstice by Ellen Jackson that the Chumash of California and the Anasazi of New Mexico created ways to mark the sun on the solstice. She also tells an abbreviated version of a solstice story involving Maui, “a mythological hero of Polynesia.”

summer-solstice-1474745_1280According to Farmer’s Almanacthe new year in ancient Egypt began on this day because the Nile started rising. Europe had many traditions to celebrate the day, the best known being the one immortalized by Shakespeare in a Midsummer Night’s Dream: fairies were out and about at this time.

With the coming of Christianity to Europe, the pagan celebrations were given new meaning because now they honored John the Baptist, St. John’s Day, on June 24.  Still superstitions persisted.  In The Folklore of American Holildaysif girls in North Carolina “pare an apple round and round without a break in the peeling and throw the peel over the left shoulder, it will form the initial or initials of your future husband.” On June 23, Midsummer’s Eve, in England “great bonfires were built” in which “people threw herbs, gathered by moonlight, as charms against witchcraft.”

June has such wonderful possibilities as a setting.  Let the adventures begin!


Writing Tip

nypl-digitalcollections-510d47e3-6334-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99-001-wJournaling for the Holidays

If you keep a daily writing journal, writing down your family traditions and events of the Christmas season is a wonderful way to make memories for yourself and your loved ones.  If you write every years during the holidays, you can see how your traditions stay traditional or how they change over the years, especially as you add new family members.

When my entire family gets together for Christmas, we have fried oysters for the Christmas dinner, a tradition from when my mom’s mom was a girl.  Not one of my siblings’ spouses has acquired a taste, or even a tolerance, for friend oysters.  So we have ham along with the oysters, keeping our family tradition alive and our in-laws from starving.

When my husband and I were first married, we had a major disagreement over what kind of Christmas tree to have.  He grew up with artificial trees and likes them because they don’t shed needles and can’t dry out and catch fire.  I grew up with the whole real tree tradition — braving the elements to select a tree, wrestling it into the house, realizing it’s much too big, rearranging furniture to make it fit, watering it, and picking up the needles as it’s brought in, while it’s standing, as it’s taken out.  My husband did not see the charm of the live Christmas tree tradition.  He only saw a dead fire hazard.

We were still battling over the tree when I came home from work on day during the holidays and found a tree stand in our living room.  It’s one of the nicest surprises I have ever had.  My husband still thinks the tree is a dead fire hazard, but I accommodate him by not cutting the tree until a week before Christmas and taking it down on New Year’s Day.  Traditions remain and change at the same time.

Something else to record during the holidays are when events don’t going according to play.  I’ll write about holiday disasters on Thursday.

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