by Robin Spano
Question of the Week: It's summer! Do you take vacations from writing? What vacation spot has been most inspiring for your writing?
Well yes, I'm on vacation now. (Not as I type, but as you read.) I have a house full of family visiting, including a 1-year-old niece whom I find far more captivating than my keyboard and computer screen.
In fact, when I'm not writing, my favorite way to spend time is with the toddlers in my life (3 nephews, 2 nieces, all under 4). The way they look at the world, the questions they ask—they remind me of the value of stopping to contemplate a leaf or rock (or a bug under a rock). Plus they're a lot of fun. It's hard to feel the angst of the writing life when a three-year-old is pretending he's an alligator about to eat you.
I do go rangy if I spend too much time away from writing, I can go a week or so before I start to feel the itchy, tingly sensation of turning into an irritable monster. But in one-week bursts or less, I consider this time away from writing to be material gathering time—whether it's the reminder to slow down and look at a leaf up close, or inspiration from the setting I'm spending time in. It also makes me appreciate my job when I finally do get back to my quiet desk.
And yes—vacation spots have inspired my writing. In my work-in-progress alone, my characters are in Paris, London, New York, Miami Beach, San Francisco, and Napa Valley--all places where I've had good times and want to revisit. I rarely take photographs when I'm away (I want to live in the moment, not step out in order to capture it). My way of keeping a location forever is to write about it later, in fiction.