I'm back from my California Sierra camping trip with my daughter, Stella. We were camping by a lake at 10,000 feet with surrounding peaks that are over 13,000. There was an unusual amount of snow this year so it was a very different landscape than we were familiar with from previous trips. Besides the huge patches of snow, the lakes were over-full. The lake we camp by has picnic tables by the shore. They were all in the lake. People sat on them to fish! There were large waterfalls flowing into the lake where usually there is no water at all, and the streams coming into the lake and flowing out of it were white with cold rushing water. Wildflowers were plentiful, but except for mosquitos, insects were not. Very few butterflies, bee flies, hover flies, wasps and the many other insects that are usually in so much evidence. Did my daughter and I sit down and write about nature as I had suggested you do? The answer is, no. We had set aside the last days for nature writing and drawing but then Stella came down with strep throat forcing us to cut our camping trip a little short. Before Stella got sick we were both writing, just not about nature. Stella was working on a novel inspired by Rick Riordan's Olympian series, and I was working on my bread history. I found sitting in the campsite by a rushing stream both relaxing and stimulating. Ideas flowed and I got a lot of writing done. Sometimes, changing where you are writing can be a big help.
There are still a couple of weeks of vacation left. Don't do like my daughter and I did! Don't procrastinate! If you go to a beautiful place, don't wait to the last days to begin writing. And if you have already been to a beautiful place, it isn't too late to write something and send it to us. As I had suggested before, grownups and kids writing together can send in their work jointly and we will consider the joint submissions for the website.
Sport and Art
I'd like to say something about this extraordinary artwork of a baseball game. The city skyline, created with simple shapes lacking in detail emphasizes the power and scale of the surroundings. Remarkably, each of the baseball players is depicted in a classic baseball pose -- the pitcher winding up to throw the ball, the batsman standing with one leg forward, waiting for the ball, and the players in the field, ready, alert for the action to begin. The players' body language says it all: the ball is abut to fly. How soon will we hear the crack of ball against the bat?
The camp story that is included in this week's newsletter brings back memories. I went both to a camp I loved, and one I hated. The one I hated had bullying. I wasn't bullied myself, but a friend of mine, who, like Jake's brother was a little different to other children, was. I remember how horrible it made me feel to see him hurt by mean children. I vividly remember telling my parents about what happened when I got home. If some of you have a camp story inside you -- and particularly if you have gone to a camp this summer -- get those ideas onto paper and send them to Emma.
Until next week,
We are mostly working this month on making improvements behind the scenes. We are looking into a more robust subscription system, beginning to work with the web developers on redesigning the web site, working with the book designer on the Stone Soup Annual, and re-editing the interviews with Stone Soup authors. I think it will take a month or two before the fruits of this month's work becomes visible.
The September Poetry issue, the first issue edited by Emma Wood, is now moving into the production phase. If you have poems that you didn't quite manage to send in earlier in the summer, send them to us now. There is poetry in every issue.
We have been told of a couple of other Stone Soup contributors who are now published writers, and heard from others who were illustrators and gone on to a career in art or design. We are getting in touch with them. If you know of anyone who was published in Stone Soup or on the Honor Roll who is now an adult writer or artist, do let us know. We'd love to hear from them.
My name is Jake. I have brown hair and green eyes, and I’m eleven years old, but most importantly, I’ve always wanted to go to summer camp. Every year I beg my parents to let me go, but they always insist that it’s too expensive. It was the end of the year and I was about to confront my parents about summer camp, when they walked into my room with huge smiles glued to their faces. “This year we’re sending you and your brother off to summer camp!” my mom exclaimed.
“Hoora…” I started. “Wait, did you say me and my brother?” I inquired. I looked over at my brother, Chris. He had pale skin, sad brown eyes, and was nine years old. He had given up on the puzzle he was doing because he wasn’t able to assemble the pieces in neat rows. We both looked at my dad anxiously.
“Yes, his therapist said it could help him deal with his autism,” my dad replied.
Around other people my brother does all kinds of weird things. Going to the same summer camp as him would be a nightmare. “I won’t go!” I insisted.