How I spent my summer, by Steven Mandzik

Yesterday was the first day of Fall and Summer is officially over, which means it’s time to write my follow-up to Amy’s back to school letter…How I Spent My Summer.

An act in two parts.

Part I – The Taming of the Bear

[box type=”shadow”]Forward, I pray, since we have come so far,

And be it moon, or sun, or what you please. And if you please to call it a rush candle, Henceforth I vow it shall be so for me.

– The Taming of the Shrew, William Shakespeare[/box]

The quote is from the final moments where Petruchio finally tames Katharina. Which is what I spent greatest amount of effort on this summer. Except, instead of taming the Bear I set her free.

Perhaps, I should call it by its modern name, 10 Things I Hate About You. Where Heath Ledger prompts Julia Stiles to let go of her hurt and smile again.

This summer Amy started smiling again. She is surfing and writing and feeling proud. Ready to love me and move our relationship to the next level.

While details of this struggle are personal let’s just say I was nearly killed in the process.

Part II – The Blogger

I’ve never been a good writer. All through my high school and college years I rarely got higher than an B. In fact, those years were a slapstick comedy of errors, with everything from a state-wide English teacher strike to a series of corrupt substitute teachers.

After I left school is when I learned how to write. It turns out that part of the problem is my nonconformist streak. Even when the teachers taught me how to do it the right way, I would do the opposite. I simply refused to write a boring essay.

Then blogging came on the scene and being unique with poor grammar was/is all the rage. Ever since I have been writing and writing, often getting paid to do it by big corporations. You could say that I have been a corporate blogger for 5 years.

During those years I dreamed of leaving everything behind, moving to paradise, and trying my own hand at writing. That is done. Amy and I moved out of DC, into a tranquil Southern California life, and I’m blogging my heart out.

So far I have been able to post something new, and interesting, every day and our growth is good, from 300 to 40,000 views/month.

In many ways this lifestyle is ideal. We get to set our own schedule, avoid the working crowds, and even pick-up long-lost hobbies (surfing). In other ways it is the scariest thing we’ve ever done. I say ‘we’ because Amy is also taking up writing, as a screenwriter.

The thing about being a writer is that you’re nothing until you have a name. It takes forever to build up that audience and, in the meantime, makes you a “struggling writer”. Once you do build up the name you have to be a hit machine. There are no consistent paychecks only your own ability to write something that works and keep doing it.

This summer served as our starting point. The beginning of our path toward our dreams. It was not all peaches and cream, but what they say is true. When you do what you love, it’s not work.

photo by Rajeev Nair

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