Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Writing in the Dog Days of Summer

The Dog Days of summer go back to the Romans and the Greeks, who associated the sultry weather with the star Sirius (the "Dog Star").

"[The] Dog Days were popularly believed to be an evil time [when] "the Sea boiled, the Wine turned sour, Dogs grew mad, and all other creatures became languid..." [See Wikipedia]

When I was involved with an international business, our European partners became scarce during August. Our overachieving Americans, steeped in their Puritan work ethic, groused about our poor continental counterparts forced to languish as they took state–mandated vacations.

It has long been the habit of commercial publishers, particularly those in New York City, to emulate the good folk across the Atlantic pond. There's something of a collective pause in the industry during August both because it's a good time to escape the sweltering city and because there's business that can be better handled when everyone's back on the job in September.

The standard advice for writers (which is generally given by editors and agents taking August vacations) is to focus on writing during the quiet time (i.e., the time when their emails and calls to agents and editors will likely go unanswered).

But isn't what's good for the goose also good for the gander?

I'm not saying you should abandon a project if you're in the middle of something and the heat of the fires of your inspiration is driving your thermometer to new altitudes.

Still, your muses might have more to sing about if you give them a cooler place to dance. And you'll definitely need to refill your well if you're running your creative swamp cooler at full blast.

So, what do you like to do to keep the dog days from eating your writing homework?

Deren Hansen is the author of the Dunlith Hill Writers Guides. Learn more at

Image: Simon Howden /

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