Monday, February 25, 2013

Hannah Jayne: Writers on Vacation

The End: Often considered the two sweetest words in the English language for an author. We love our jobs, we love our characters, our stories, our work days that include pajama bottoms and coffee that is more sweetened-something syrup than coffee. But after tapping in the requisite 70, 80, or 90,000 words of a manuscript that is due far sooner than one imagined, there is nothing quite as compelling or momentous as those two words.

In the last nine months, I typed those very words three times. Three times, once every three months, back to back…to back. I generally stagger deadlines between week-long margarita breaks, but due to something businessy and not an unfortunate love for every reality show on TLC, I found myself and my work schedule surprisingly compressed. So, once I typed the third set of end words, I decided that I wanted – no, needed – some time off. A month, this time. No writing. Just relaxing, reading, getting in touch with my inner-domestic goddess (i.e., doing laundry for the first time in a month and finally scraping up that fuzzy thing in the fridge that will either be toxic mold or a new pet. Or possibly a combination of the two).

I woke up the first morning with a lightness I hadn’t felt in months. Nothing pressing! Nothing immediately due! I lounged in bed for an extra half-hour, snuggling my cats until they both began claiming starvation. Then there was the meandering breakfast, the hour at the gym and devouring a few chapters of a great new book by Lisa Jackson. And then it was noon and I had no idea what to do with myself. I’m usually just looking up from my laptop by noon, my stomach growling, my coffee ice cold, my breath rank from ice-cold coffee.

By one o’clock, my fingers were twitching. Let me just write a few things down about a book I’m thinking about… just a few lines…and then, I promise: Nothing but relaxing and folding socks and laying in the sun reading…

No writing. On vacation. Hiatus.
That was three chapters ago.

They say that you don’t choose a writing career; a writing career chooses you. And here, on vacation in a dazzling locale and wondering when I’ll kill my next character, I know that’s true.

I just wish the career that chose me included more margaritas.


Pat Cochran said...

Wouldn't it be nice to find a career that includes not only margaritas, but
lots of free time!

Pat C.

Mary Preston said...

I always imagined a writer to be 'on' at all times. The imagination going at 100 miles per hour.