When some people go on vacation, they like to say they’re “taking the week off.” I say I’m “taking the week on.”
Next week I will be operating as a full-time writer. This will be my staycation. For there is really no grander place to be than deep in my own writings and at home where there’s a sense of peace… and no interruptions except those of the feline variety.
It is about darned time. I haven’t had a proper, relaxing “vacation” from work for a while. My last out-of-town, out-of-state trip was to Boston in June of last year. And a long fourteen months, it’s been. As much as I’d like an out-of-town adventure, I’ve craved a blank-slate weekend to reset myself, to focus on the grand endeavor of novel writing, to tackle any number of creative and household projects.
I cannot say too many times what a great struggle it is to write a novel while working full time. Being away from the Novel for nine hours means that I only have a small swatch of hours in which to work. Sometimes I am exhausted when I get home. Sometimes I have a meeting or a social gathering. Sometimes my need for groceries outweighs the need to write.
I long for the weekend, but the weekend has its caveats, too: big-time chores (sweeping/cleaning floors and laundry), church and small group meetings, family obligations. Even with only one or two of these things, two days very quickly becomes not enough.
It’s not because I’m a bad writer who cannot prioritize, but because life is messy. It would be messy even if I had a spouse to do them dishes for me. (And, you know what, that is a terrible reason to want a spouse.) It would be messy if I was a full time writer, freelancing or reviewing or whatnot. It’s the grass-is-always-greener state of mind.
The key is thinking, simply, what can I do with what I have? Take a whole week of paid vacation because I’m due for it; that’s what. And it’s summer and slow at the office.
Below: simple is beautiful. I cannot agree more!
I have a growing list of objectives, but top of the list is Finish This Novel. Or rather, finish this draft so that my readers (I have two waiting patiently!) can read and give me opinions. I want to have a complete draft – missing no jump-the-shark holes – and have it make a certain amount of sense… and be more or less pretty before I, well, get help. And help comes in the form of readers, who I trust to read, scribble, giggle, and ask a plethora of juicy and challenging questions.
* Write. Fill in the lacunae – those jump-the-shark, I-don’t-know-how-they-get-from-A-to-C moments.
* Read through and edit.
* Read aloud and edit and revise.
* Edit. Revise. You get the idea. Pretty simple.
I won’t be in the chair the whole time. That’s impossible for a restless soul like me. On a good long Saturday, I can manage four hours, broken into two pieces. So if I can accomplish that for five days, that’s good. That’s twenty hours, not including whatever shenanigans I get up to on those Sundays and Saturdays.
Honestly, I fantasize about writing five or six, but I don’t know if I have that kind of energy. We’ll see how it goes, one day at a time. I’m always up for a challenge!
Bits and Sundries when I’m not in the chair:
* Sleeping… but not oversleeping. (Hopefully.)
* Going through closets and shelves and kitchen drawers, and making a great Cull of all the old clothes, doodads and what-else that clutters my apartment.
* Rearranging furniture. (Maybe.)
* Buying clothes – I feel like I’ve been wearing rags for the last two years.
* Browse for books at the neighborhood bookshops. Do you have any idea how long it’s been since I’ve set foot in a bookshop or petted a bookshop cat? Far too long.
* Play with my own cat, who will appreciate it.
* Take walks. Maybe I’ll mix it up and surprise myself. Go somewhere new.
* Read. Don’t know what, but I will. That’s where the bookshop comes in handy.
* Eat food. Something good. It will be good. Pizza may be involved.
So this week is indeed about self-care as much as it is about writing like a fiend. It is the best thing for a writer – in lieu of an intensive writers’ retreat or conference (some day, some day, though). This requires less money for travel expenses, sessions, and hotel rooms. While having a group of other writers around is always nice, being on my own is not a bad way to be; it’s where I am most in control of my craft. The schedule is flexible… so if I sleep in longer than I’d planned, I won’t have missed anything.
And who knows what other creative things might creep in? Card making? Embroidery? Calligraphy? Journal-making? Bird-watching?
Summer is beginning to wane, but there is enough of it left to inspire and explore. More than enough.