Around eighteen or so years ago, my pastor told me to take a vacation.
Okay, he wasn’t talking exclusively to me. It was part of his sermon. I don’t remember much now, just that he spoke of the value of rest. Not long after that, I booked a trip to Captiva Island, Florida. Never let it be said that I don’t take direction well. Continue reading →
In 2000, I went on vacation alone for the first time. The prospect of a week on Captiva Island, reading and swimming and reading again, was delicious. Of course, the dilemma was what to read: mysteries, literature, general fiction, essays, or something else. Who knew what I’d feel like reading on a given day? So I did what any reasonable person would do: I loaded up my suitcase with books and tucked some clothes in around them. At the Fort Myers airport, as I tried to lift my suitcase into a rental car, I found myself wishing there was an alternative to hauling a library around.
A writer’s life is, by definition, solitary. Even those who live with spouses, children, and menageries need to take time apart to write. A few years ago, I attended at talk at R. J. Julia Booksellers by Nichole Bernier, author of The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D. and the mother of five children. She described how she would retreat to the attic to write and how her husband (who, I suspect, may be up for canonization) periodically sent her off to a hotel for a writing weekend while he stayed home with the kids.
Some writers leave home each day because they have day jobs. Poet Wallace Stevens worked as an attorney at a Hartford-based insurance company. Anthony Trollope famously wrote for three hours every morning before heading off to his job at the Post Office where he introduced the red pillar boxes still seen all over Britain. Whether they adored their coworkers or spent the workday waiting for the moment when they could scurry home to peace and quiet, I don’t know. Continue reading →