Sometimes I look at my calendar and think, ooohhhh! Two extra days off or a whole week.I'll solve all my story problems or get a great new idea!
Then I go away and am so caught up in the change between my surroundings and daily life that nothing comes to me. That's what happened on our most recent vacation in February. We were in a beautiful place, thousands of miles from home; getting up when we felt like it and seeing the world around us with different eyes.
I tried to think about my character Ruby and how to frame the last quarter of book two of my Beat Street series, which is proving to be harder than I thought it would be. I could think of nothing.
I swam, walked, buried my feet in sand, enjoyed the closeness I don't get to have with my husband most of the time because our working hours differ so much; and gazed for long stretches at mountains. I thought about family issues and one by one, let them go. I tried new foods and looked at the ocean some more.
And I felt guilty for not coming to Ruby's rescue, or even finding an interesting way for her to journey through the last third of my new book.
And then, on the last day, while packing to go home, it all came to me. One, two, three scenes unfolded in my head and I knew they were absolutely right and organic to the story. I wrote some quick notes, wishing I had a whole other "working vacation" week to finish the book in one fell swoop.
But now I am back to patches again, taking a few hours here and there and reading my notes so I can create what I saw so strongly in my mind's eye.
WHY did it take me so long to get there? I don't know, except to say that time is a writer's friend, and that writers especially need time to be away from their writing to find solutions to the problems they raise.
I don't know why this is true. I only know it IS.
Is there a lesson in all this? I don't know.
Take a longer vacation? OR smaller ones with more time?
Or find a way to relax, so the thoughts come to you, whatever you're doing and wherever you are, periodically.
If you know how to do that... can you please let me know?
Illustration: Scott Rolfs