Thursday, June 14, 2018

All aboard!

"Do you think a regular writing hiatus would be good for you? No writing/reading/reviewing/marketing etc.) How long would you like to take and what would you do during it?"

Catriona writes: Thus week I'm taking a blogging hiatus, well, I'm turning my day over to Linda Lovely, who's on a blog tour to celebrate the launch of PICKED OFF, the second in her South Carolina goat farm mystery series, the follow-up to the giggle-fest that was BONES TO PICK.

Over to Linda:

Here’s how old I am: I recall taking vacations from my full time job and packing only clothes, money, and, if we were driving to the coast, maybe beach towels. What didn’t I pack? Cell phones and laptops. All communication with my employer (early on) and partners (later) ceased. If my firm went bankrupt and I lost my job, I’d learn about it once I returned home. Meanwhile I was on vacation and couldn’t give a hoot.

Old fogey that I am I look back on this era as the good old days. Now when friends and family come to visit (often since we live on a very pretty lake), most never entirely escape work and worries. Colleagues call with questions. They answer texts. They check social media and websites several times a day. They never unplug.

That means they miss the joy of a total sabbatical—a timeout to do absolutely nothing or to lose oneself in a fantasy adventure. A chance to recharge our minds and bodies, give free reign to our imaginations. The real world calls us back soon enough.

So do I think a regular writing hiatus would be good for me (and others)? Absolutely. However, I can’t include reading in my potential list of retreat-from-authorhood prohibitions. I was reading for pleasure and escape long before I started writing fiction, and I’ll still be devouring books if I ever quit. Reading is part of the bedtime ritual for my husband and me. We always read for an hour or so before it’s lights out.

How long a hiatus makes sense? Depends on the individual. Some folks are so addicted to their cell phones that I doubt they could spend a day unplugged without psychotherapy. It would be torture, not vacation. For me, I’m a fan of the traditional two-week vacation. One week isn’t long enough. I’m usually worn out at the start of a vacation due to frantic efforts to put out any fires and get ready—even if my trip doesn’t involve leaving home. Three weeks is too long since playing catch up on my return to author responsibilities would just rekindle whatever stress I felt pre-vacation.

What is my ideal escape? Perhaps a train trip across Canada with my husband, if we had the freedom to disembark whenever and for as long as we chose. It’s been too long since we’ve visited with out niece in Saskatchewan who lives on a wheat farm. I’d love to revisit Quebec City, Toronto, and Nova Scotia. And I’ve always wanted to see Banff National Park, Calgary, and Vancouver. (Note to self, you do need to renew your passport for Canada.)

I think fear is the biggest reason we don’t unplug for any length of time. Some folks with nine-to-five jobs may fear their employers will realize they CAN function without them. For authors, it’s fear that should we abandon social media, our fans will move on or our publishers will decide we’re poor team players and undependable or poor communicators.

What I fear more is that if I don’t disconnect from the writing world at least once a year I’ll miss out on experiences and emotions that are what the good life’s all about. And those experience might just provide the inspiration for the best book I’ll ever write.

Linda's Bio: Over the past five years, hundreds of mystery/thriller writers have met Linda Lovely at check-in for the annual Writers’ Police Academy, which she helps organize. Lovely finds writing pure fiction isn’t a huge stretch given the years she’s spent penning PR and ad copy. She writes a blend of mystery and humor, chuckling as she plots to “disappear” the types of characters who most annoy her. Quite satisfying plus there’s no need to pester relatives for bail. Henery Press just released PICKED OFF on June 5. It’s the second humorous installment in her new Brie Hooker Mystery series set on a goat farm in Upstate South Carolina. An active member of Sisters in Crime, Lovely served as her local chapter’s president for five years. She also belongs to International Thriller Writers and Romance Writers of America.


Linda Lovely said...

Thanks for inviting me to take a turn on Criminal Minds, Catriona. I'm interested in hearing other authors' thoughts on taking a writing hiatus.

Dietrich Kalteis said...

You make a good point, Linda. Unplug or leave all the gadgets at home when you take some time off.

Liz Milliron said...

Every weekend I make a retreat with my church women where I turn off the phone from Friday night to Sunday afternoon. I usually miss stuff from my dad, but I feel so relaxed come Sunday.

But yes - this does not include no books!


H. S. Stavropoulos said...

Sabbaticals are wonderful. One needs to recharge batteries in order to write/work better.

Terry said...

Thanks to Catriona for introducing us to a new author, for me and to (ta da) a goat farm!

As for your blog post, alas the reason I don't unplug from my cell phone is that if I don't delete the 200 emails I get every day, I end up being overwhelmed--and all the good vibes I got from being away get swamped when I return. But I try not to respond to anything. I just delete the junk and flag the ones that need attending to when I get home. As for actually answering the phone, I don't do that in every day life, so I surely don't do it on vacation.

I quite remember the good old days before cell phones, though. In fact, I used to windsurf off the coast of Baja, where there was only one phone within several miles, and people had to stand in line to use it. And didn't always work. One of the men who was fishing a week got word through the hotel (a loose term for the collection of cottages) that his house had burned down. People asked if he was going home. Heck no, he said. The house will still be burned down when I get back. There's nothing I can do now. No that is a relaxed attitude!

Cathy Ace said...

Super post, Linda...thanks for giving us all the chance to think about turning off at least one device. Unfortunately, I'm a bit like Terry when it comes to my phone - if I don't at least "curate" my emails, my phone stops accepting them altogether, then I panic! By the way, I love the sound of your two-week trip across Canada...and, YES, get that passport renewed; come to Vancouver for Left Coast Crime in March next year to not only have an excuse to visit Beautiful British Columbia, but to mingle with avid crime writers and readers :-)

Linda Lovely said...

Hmmm, Left Coast Crime in Vancouver. Maybe. I've always wanted to attend LCC and see Vancouver but I'd sort of envisioned Canada in the summer. Not still worrying about getting through the passes. Terry, delighted that you are intrigued by a goat farm.

I still have a flip phone. So I don't worry about emails stacking up on my phone. But I understand the dilemma. And, yes, I do try to weed everyday. Still have something like a couple thousand (received and sent) I haven't filed or deleted. Ugh. But it is pretty easy when you've been gone to just delete all emails that aren't personal--which is usually the bulk of them.

And Terry is that "hotel" still in existence? Sounds wonderful.

Unknown said...

I enjoyed your post Linda. I just spent a couple hours at a campsite atop a mountain that has no cellphone signal, picking up and dropping off my son. I was thinking it would be kind of blissful to stay a few days, but then the fear you speak of would kick in. Will I be able to recover from this lengthy disconnect? And the longer you're away from social media, the harder it is to get back in. Thanks for guest-posting and sorry for jumping in late.