Thursday, 30 March 2017
What a few weeks since my last blog! Words are barely enough and yet here I go.
I was writing to a deadline. A book to enter into a competition. The style was influenced by a novel who's title I could recall but not its author. How remiss of me. I went online. I got side tracked and spent hours looking into everything apart from what I was looking for. All extremely interesting though. I gave that up and went back to the writing of the last couple of chapters. It wasn't working out. I decided I needed a complete break. I took a five day break. No writing. Definitely no technology. And so it was. No emails. No blank screen beckoning me. No guilt trips over the looming deadline. No Fb friends telling me about their dogs and gardens and grandkids and holidays and, in some cases, their writing successes, the latter always giving me pleasure even if they are only friends via Facebook.
The days were a lovely mix of museums, art galleries, book launches, visiting friends (real ones), the spraying of every perfume from every counter in the Department Store, eating food not generally eaten, drinking coffee too often drank and simply loafing about, watching and listening to perfect strangers. Everything digested with gusto, for perhaps future use in a story.
Then a few hours drive home in the rain. The deadline meant picking up from where I'd left off. It was not easy. I had all this other stuff' now in my mind, none of it remotely attached to, or useful for, the story I was working on. The words came slowly. The clock ticked. The rains turned into floods. Roads impassable. I had to finish and send off the manuscript. Luckily it was to be emailed. But then gale force winds arrived with even heavier rain. There was talk on the radio of trees down, possible blackouts. How to email without power to my computer! I worked into the night. The deadline grew closer. Will there be time. Will these last rushed chapters be good enough.
The river rose. The trees bent wildly in the growing wind. It was now or never. A decision had to be made. I opened my emails. I sent off the completed draft of the manuscript. An email was pinged back. The submission had been received. I more or less fell in a heap, feeling the need for another five day break. No way out. All roads out flooded. Time for coffee, an early Easter Bun and a big deep breathe. Words can't express totally how I felt. Good is pretty close.
Thursday, 9 March 2017
When I asked the question whether holidays ever go away a friend replied, "Which holidays?" A fair enough question when you consider how many of them there are. Not just the annual 2-4 weeks break from work but the others given as religious or national days, which somehow generally manage to include a long weekend. When I was younger and working full time those extra days of holiday were very welcome and the 4 week break was a time of freedom from routine and sometimes the boredom of a regular job. Things have changed a fair bit over the past decade or so. Long weekend holidays are still enjoyed by most people , although the service industries we so rely on do sometimes miss out, but they become even more important for those who are expected to work ever longer hours, often for no extra pay, and for those with temporary or casual work who can spend as much time travelling to and from work as the hours they get paid for.
So, as a writer, no longer having a 'normal' job I realise how lucky I am. I can spend weeks writing, without a break or I can take a big break whenever I want. Unless there is a specific time put aside related to my writing I can shut down the computer, hide my pencil and pad and even close my mind to anything related to what I am currently writing. When there is no deadline I can spread my work over days, weeks, months, even years, if it does not affect my income or my status. So yes, I am lucky to be at a stage where I can more or less take a holiday when I like. Mostly they are breaks of a few days but I could, if motivated, take more. I can simply end this sentence and not write another one until I feel I need to. This can be a few hours later or..whenever.
This is the theory! In practice my mind, my imagination, my need to tell the story, dominates my desire for holidays, in what ever form they come. If a character nags at me to get on with the story then I continue. If I am pushed into describing a scene that very moment then I must. If my heart prods my mind along to revisit a chapter then I do. Under these circumstances I continue working and a break goes off the radar. Yet, in spite of those 'pressures' I know that I can work at my own pace. I can select the times I work or do not.
So do my holidays ever go away? Certainly not. The ones I have had remain as memories to savour. The ones I have to come are ones that excite me with the visions I have of where they will be and what they will be. Of course, they can also be a great source for the backdrop to a
story. Holidays need to be around forever. Otherwise we might all go stir crazy. There is a fundamental need for all humans to refresh both body and mind. It makes us better people. Long may holidays reign, no matter what the global corporations or politicians, who receive very generous holidays, say!