Friday, June 15, 2018

I Got My Ticket for the Long Way Round

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?)

by Paul D. Marks

Before I get to the question at hand, I was researching some things the other day and came across a list of the “Top 50 Crime Novel Blogs For Crime Readers & Authors” at Feedspot. So out of curiosity I had to check and see if we were on there. And we are. At #22. The last update is May 30, 2018, so this is a pretty current list. Not sure how they chose these blogs, but Congratulations fellow Criminal Minds and thank you to Feedspot.

And now to today’s question:

I don’t know if a writing hiatus would be good for me, but I’m not sure it’s something I could do even if I wanted to. Though it might be good for my marriage, because writing is like having a mistress, who takes up a lot of your time and energy.

Clearly we all take breaks from writing. But no writing? No reading? What kind of torture is this? But okay, maybe no reviewing or marketing. So, what are supposed to do? For example, if we travel, I don’t know about you, but I know whenever I travel I always have good intentions to get some writing in. And I never do, so even that might work. But no reading – we’re supposed to take time off and do what? Watch TV all day, stare at our phones all day texting all the important things that people must text about every minute of every day. Or maybe cure cancer in our free time – yeah maybe. But my chemistry set is notoriously out of date.

I do get asked to do a lot of blurbs and reviews, so much so that I often don’t have time to read for pleasure so I’ve had to put a moratorium on blurbing. So I’d be happy to get a break from that.

The solution is a compromise: Yes, a break or hiatus. A cruise, but not on a cruise ship. That is my idea of H-E-DOUBLE-HOCKEY-STICKS: HELL! HELL! HELL ON EARTH! HELL ON THE HIGH SEAS. And, while the food might be good, the idea of being stacked like pancakes or in a multi-layered ant-hill of drunken partying fools would make me want to jump overboard or walk the plank, be hanged—hung?—strung from the yardarm. If I go to sea—and I have been—to enjoy the ocean and peacefulness a cruise ship is not peaceful. It’s like Las Vegas but where you need a Dramamine fix every few hours, not from the rolling waves but from the rolling drunks.

I don’t think today’s cruise ships are the epitome of sedate, luxurious travel like we might see in the old movies on Turner Classics. People have changed. These days they see a cruise ship as the perfect place to get rid of that extraneous wife or superfluous husband. So they might be a good place for an Agatha Christie type story, Death on the Nile or Murder on the Disney Cruise Express.

Many freighters or cargo ships carry passengers, but usually a limited number. As an old salt, I love the sea. I’d bring a laptop and tablet, lots of books and movies. And Amy and the dogs. Now I know in reality you’re not allowed to bring dogs unless you ship them as cargo, but since this is my fantasy I can do whatever I want – and damn it, the dogs are coming!

How long would I take? Forever, as long as I had satellite internet to send my stories out, ’cause I’d cheat and get some writing in after all.  -----  What about you? Hiatus or no hiatus? And what would you do?


And now for the usual BSP:

Check out my recent interview with Terri Lynn Coop on The Blue Plate Special on Authors on the Air Radio:


Broken Windows is coming (September, 2018) from Down & Out Books! And you might be able to get an Advanced Reader’s Copy at Net Galley. It’s FREE, you just have to agree to their terms and agree to give a fair and honest review. Their terms are not onerous. But there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to get a copy.

Broken Windows is the sequel to my Shamus Award-Winning novel White Heat, which Publishers Weekly calls a “…taut crime yarn.” It picks up where WH leaves off: A woman jumps to her death from the Hollywood Sign. A disbarred lawyer places an ad saying “Will do anything for money.” A day laborer is murdered. And Duke and Jack, the P.I.’s from White Heat, have to figure out how it all ties together. – In a nutshell.


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Unknown said...

I wish I could feel so strongly about reading and writing as all my writer friends, that even a few weeks away from it all would be unbearable. Nope, not at all. And no TV or thumb twiddling either - there's SO MUCH TO DO that doesn't involve books - and maybe that's the problem.

Great that we're on the list. Congratulations to us!

Dietrich Kalteis said...

It's hard to turn off that part of the brain that thinks up stories, so I always have a notebook handy to jot down story ideas – even on a cruise ship.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks for your comment, RM. Sometimes one does need a break from it all. But it would be hard to not read or write for any length of time, I think :-) .

And it is kinda cool to be on that list. I wish I knew how they compiled it.

Paul D. Marks said...

It does help to have pen and paper hand, Dieter. My problem is that even if I do I can barely read my handwriting. Often have to have my wife translate it for me. Luckily, she's pretty good at figuring it out.

Anonymous said...

I love cruises and have been on many, but wish they were like the ones in the vintage movies. I always take reading material on vacations. As for writing, I will jot down ideas in a notebook or text myself---but no actual writing.

Paul D. Marks said...

Jotting down notes sounds like a good compromise, Maggie. It's hard for us to totally escape our writerly natures, isn't it? :-)

Terry said...

I had an interesting experience last summer. My husband and I chartered a boat on Nainamo near Vancouver and sailed to the Sunshine Coast. I had intentions of reading and writing and after a week I realized I had done neither. The scenery was spectacular, the hiking wonderful and not too daunting. It was a real vacation, culminating in my getting to the be the co-pilot in the seaplane we took from the island to the Vancouver airport. About halfway through I panicked, realizing I had not been reading, so I did read a bit, but not much.

JP Bloch said...

I've always believed that when you're a writer, even when you're not writing seeds are being planted; writers are either writing or else "pregnant," so to speak.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi Paul,

I think getting away on holiday is a great idea for revitalizing creativity. But writers need to write and to read. So a week or two is plenty of time.

Paul D. Marks said...

Terry, that sounds like a terrific trip. It’s such beautiful country up there. And as long as you didn’t catch up on your reading while piloting the seaplane I think you’re in good shape :-) .

Paul D. Marks said...

I get you, Jon. I always say that writers are never off-duty. Even if it looks like we’re relaxing and having fun and disconnected, we’re always thinking, the gears are always grinding.

Paul D. Marks said...

I agree, Jacqueline. Writers need to write (and read). Keep things flowing.

James W. Ziskin said...

Great post, Paul. No hiatus for me. Gotta keep on keepin’ on.

Susan C Shea said...

Your description of a modern day cruise reinforces my worst fantasies, so I'm with you: No, never, not. But those old movies were so romantic...

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Jim. And congratulations on your Macavity nom!

Paul D. Marks said...

Susan, I love being on ships and on the ocean, but the idea of one of "those" cruises is truly my idea of hell. But the old cruises do seem so romantic, at least in the movies and I guess if one isn't traveling in steerage class.