My literary vacay

Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.
– Henry David Thoreau, American author, poet, philosopher, naturalist, and leading transcendentalist

My library chair is calling me!

My library chair is calling me!

Not surprisingly, I have a stockpile of vacation and discretionary days, plus two floating holidays. Unfortunately, you can only carry over a certain amount of vacation and discretionary hours into the next fiscal year, which for my company is July 1st. When I checked my hours a few months ago, I realized I had to take time off. But when? There’s never a good time to take off because something is always due or meetings are scheduled either on the fly or weeks in advance. I understood that any time I would take off that wasn’t labeled “family vacation” was going to be writing time for me. I was not prepared to take a week off now, however, as such a chunk of time required activity that had to be productive, as far as I was concerned. I am not ready to sit down and write the second novel. But I am ready to sit down and read, conduct research, sketch characters, and plot storylines – all valuable, of course, and a precursor to actually writing.

The one thing I did know was that I did not want to take the same week off as my kids’ spring break. If I took off the same week they were out, I knew it would not be the “me” vacation that I so desperately wanted and needed. My kids were off last week. It was nice downtime for them. I am off this week, though I still have to push through some revisions, attend a meeting, write a summary, and respond to necessary e-mails. I scheduled an appointment with my acupuncturist to start the week off to be in a good place physically. In the weeks leading up to this week, I tried to clear off my home desk of tasks I needed to complete in order to have a clean work space and thus a cleared mental state of mind.

And thus yesterday so began my literary vacay. Note that I didn’t call it a stacay. Even though I’m going to be parked in my library chair with my tall stack of books on the Filipino-American War, pen and notepad, The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker, cup of tea (now gone cold), and most important box of See’s chocolates for sustenance, I consider this a vacation where I am not really at home. These books will be taking me to another country, another era. I scarcely will feel or hear the crinkly leather seat I’ll be inhabiting.

My trusty companion, Rex, will show me how to relax.

My trusty companion, Rex, will show me how to relax.

I will admit that once I was ensconced in my library chair yesterday, with a fortress of books around me, I started to panic. How would I ever get through all these books, remember all the historical details? How much time would I need? How long would it be before I get to the point of writing, and then how long will the writing process be? Will it once again be a 17-year odyssey as it was for A Village in the Fields? When you’re 52 and you have a full-time job and two kids, these are natural questions to ask. Stopping and smelling the roses is an iffy optional activity. I am often aware of seconds, minutes, hours, and making all of those measurements of time count.

I allowed myself to flounder a bit while I figured out what I could do. I thought back to last year and the year before – how did I restart and finish the first novel? Somehow, those years are smashed together when I look back. Last year, I finished the novel, blogged three times a week, and had an insane work schedule, along with helping with my kids’ schooling and attending their extracurricular activities, at the expense of sleep. I had more energy and was younger, of course, in those 15 previous years. Am I smarter as a writer after having gone through this writing exercise? Yes. So that’s what I told myself to hang my hat on. I did it before; I’ll do it again. Better and smarter. Don’t think about time. Just keep going. It’s what makes me happy, so in true Zen-like fashion, I told myself to enjoy the doing.

I hear my library chair calling me. It’s gotten cold again and I must warm the old leather. And read. Take notes. Most importantly, dream.

Required reading list.

Required reading list.

  • Susie

    A luxury to spend days reading – even one brief day, these days, is a luxury! Immerse yourself – you’ll soak up more than you know and be writing again in no time. Enjoy, Patty!

    • Patty

      Thanks, Susie! Once you settle down in the chair and open a book, the world around drifts away. Luxury indeed!