Monday, August 10, 2015

Lazy Summer Days (Not)

"It's summer! Do you take vacations from writing? What vacation spot has been most inspiring to your writing?"

 -from Susan

My vacations and writing life spill happily back and forth. I am never – and always – on vacation, a perception that stems from having had desk jobs and a consulting practice for a few decades and feeling that life these days as a writer is an amazing gift to myself.

Right now, I’m polishing the revisions my agent asked me to make on a new manuscript set in rural France. The inspiration came during a visit to the village where two of my American friends went to live permanently on a whim. The first time I visited, strictly for fun, I learned about a petty scandal that was causing rifts among the people who lived in the town. It reminded me so much of a Jane Austen plot that bells and lights went off in my head.

It was while on another supposedly pure vacation, this time in Kauai, that I finished the first draft of the book. Barred from the beach between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to preserve some skin health, I wrote for six hours every day for almost three weeks.

Ah, you’re saying, you got to write off your vacations! Clever you! Actually, I didn’t attempt to do that for either of these, although I later spent lots of time in the area my story is set in, photographing things like the town dump, the abandoned quarry, the little streets that peter out, the white cows. And tasting and collecting examples of the food that region – the Yonne in Burgundy – produces and what my characters would eat every day, the lucky people. For the true research trips, my accountant agreed some deductions were legitimate. He did suggest, mildly in his appealing Irish accent, that I might better focus on earnings so that there was something to deduct from.

Right now, I’m working hard, no trips in sight, two different deadlines in front of me: the French book revision to the agent in a few weeks; planning the new upcoming Dani O’Rourke mystery rollout for a February 2 launch. But this work is vacation compared to sitting in endless meetings with academic deans, university presidents, and anxious fundraisers.

I hope your summer is at least as much fun!


Paul D. Marks said...

Love the pix of your vacation spots, Susan. And also when you say "I am never – and always – on vacation..." I think as writers we're never really on vacation, are we? Even if it doesn't look like we're working, even if we're sitting on the beach in Maui, sipping a tropical drink on a sultry day, we are still working...aren't we?

Meredith Cole said...

I just came back from a lovely vacation where I snuck away in the afternoons to write... Getting time to write feels like such a gift!

Susan C Shea said...

Yes, Paul, we are always working, witness Meredith's comment.

RJ Harlick said...

Susan, I'm so envious of your France and Kauai vacations. But I'm afraid when I go on vacation, I go on vacation and rarely give my writing a second thought.