The Elusive Chapters of Summer
Part confession and part inquiry, today’s little provocation for you is about a long-running fantasy I’ve nourished since my late teens: the idea of a summer vacation on which you make big progress on your work-in-progress.
Being born into a family of tireless workers, I was quite young when I seized on the phrase “working vacation.”
I tweaked it with the concept of getting off to some picturesque spot in the world where I’d spend a week churning out about a chapter an hour while fabled breezes ruffled my hair and cooled my busy brow. A writing vacation.
Sometimes I’d try one of those “writing retreats” in a stately home next to some really good vineyards. You can imagine how well that worked out. Inevitably, the retreat trips were the worst, even if not near the grapes, because they’re always run by strangely punitive “instructors” whose work no one has ever read and who over-schedule everything to within an inch of your sanity.
No, going it alone always proved the best idea. And surely, I reasoned, I’d return, triumphant, a full manuscript in hand, ready for light edits and then quick distribution to adoring agents. So I tried this writing vacation thing
- First on Santorini.
- Then Gran Canaria.
- Then Québec (not an island, big mistake).
- Then Arizona (no ocean, another big mistake).
- Then St. Barts.
- Then Malta.
- Then Crete.
- Then Taormina.
- Then Skiathos.
- Then Corfu.
- Then other places.
The part I got right was about the hair ruffling, My hair was really very well ruffled by some of the most fabled breezes in the world–off the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the Ionian, the Aegean, and a couple of disturbingly deep lakes.
But the writing? [Read more…]