Thursday, July 31, 2008

Guilt to Go

By Deborah Sharp

Peace and love from the mellow environs of Northern California. My husband and I are vacationing out here, about as far as we can get from Florida's summer swelter. And now that I'm a bonafide mystery writer, I'm feeling guilty that I haven't written word one this week on Book 3, ''Mama Gets Hitched.''

Is it just me, or does everyone else feel like taking a vacation is slacking off?

Early in my transition from journalism to fiction-writing, I remember listening to an important author at a mystery convention: ''Writing is like breathing,'' he said, importantly. ''If I couldn't write, I'd die.''

I was duly impressed. But even then I wondered if that wasn't a bit of hooey. I mean, suppose this writer was the lone survivor of a ship wreck. Luckily for him, his deserted island has ample food and water. But, darn it, not a single sheet of paper or writing utensil to be found. Would he really
die without the ability to scribble out the plot points of his latest novel?

It's funny, I never felt guilty about taking time off when I was a plain ol' journalist. I knew as soon as I got back, there'd be plenty of new stories to cover. Then again, I always keep a journal. So maybe some small observation about the Northern California lifestyle will make it into my next book.

How does ''Mama Tries Tofu'' sound?


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Or "Mama Hugs a Redwood."

Have a great vacation, Deborah!

But honestly, for the past 4 years I've written almost every day on every vacation I've taken. And I've had at least one book event on every vacation, including a 3-day cruise. It's a sickness, I know.

It's getting so I squeeze my vacations into the traveling I do for my books, rather than squeeze the writing/book events into my vacations.

I keep saying I want take a vacation, without writing of any kind, but so far haven't done it. Maybe one day.

Bill Cameron said...

I've taken vacations TO write, and I've taken breaks from writing. I only feel guilty about not writing when I have something due and I'm not making progress. But I've also learned that when I need to not write, it's not going to kill me to not write.

If I'm on a trip with my family, I am going to do little, if any, formal writing, and that's fine. I still have a notepad in my vest pocket. If I go to a conference, like Bouchercon, I'm not going to get any writing done. I used to think I would, but who am I fooling? So I don't worry about it.

I'll always write, if by "always" you mean "generally view myself as a writer who writes fairly regularly but also does other things, like the dishes or bike rides with my kids."

One thing I tell myself: if I'm not writing, I gain nothing by feeling bad about it. If I AM writing, I'm demonstrating no special virtue. I'm just writing, or not writing. That's all.

G.M. Malliet said...

Some day I will take a vacation, just to write. When I'm on "vacation vacation," it's always too much hassle somehow to do more than scribble a few notes. I'm too busy!

The fantasy is a house on the seashore that I've rented for a month, just so I can write. No sightseeing allowed, or very little. Walks on the beach. You know the kind of thing.

Keith Raffel said...

And what if you lived in Northern California ? Have some empathy for those of us who have to deal with the diversions year-round.