Ah. Finally, it's summertime and families like mine are packing their bags and heading out to their favorite summertime destinations. Years ago, we'd strive for variety and our family still likes that, but there's a lot to be said for finding a place where you can unwind in comfort and indulge in a few tried and true pastimes.
This is also a great time of year for the written word. I'm always finding my reading time squeezed when I'm at home, but it's so much easier to find the time to sample those unread magazines and dip into that long promised novel when the bills and lawn mowing aren't there to demand your attention. For example, I just finished the last couple of chapters of Herzog, by Saul Bellow. It's a an entertaining but demanding novel that segues into imaginary letters written by the protaganist to girl friends, philosophers, family members and the like, but it's propelled by literary energy and a cast of memorable characters that held my attention.
I know, I'm meandering, but that's the beauty of vacation time, you can suspend the notion that everything is on a timeline and let the world stretch out into more natural rhythms. It works the same way for those of us who are writers. I've been writing chapters during vacations for many years. I can head over to a picnic table with notebook in hand, catch glimpses of the sun when I want and still hang out with the family. Or, at night, as other family members descend into slumberland, I can write a few more lines or do editing on my PC. In theory, I could bring my laptop to the beach, but that feels a bit too geeky and the notebook is much less intrusive. Plus, I can set the notebook down, take a swim and then return, without worrying that the PC will wander off.
For those years when we've taken a driving vacation, featuring stops at a few destinations, I've enjoyed bringing along a journal and making notes about whatever catches my attention. I can remember one summer when the family drove into Quebec; my oldest son and I both wrote journal notes on the people we met and the places we travelled. It added an extra dimension to our trips -- not just photos to remember these places, but also our own words, written when the memories were still very fresh.
So, what are your thoughts on vacations and writing? As a reader, is this one of your favorite times to open up a novel by a favorite author and hang out by the beach? Do you like to write journals or blogs about your travel experiences? If you write fiction, how does vacation time work for you? Is the muse stimulated by having all of that extra free time? Are you able to balance family and writing time? Or do you just want to hang out on the beach and give the written word a rest?