Do writers ever get a vacation? The answer is: sort of. I don’t know about the rest of you, but my brain is always working on story ideas. The first novel I ever wrote was set in Mendocino, one of the most beautiful spots in the world. In the gorgeous dining room of the Mendocino Hotel I overheard an odd conversation and watched what looked to be a dinner party gone awry. A book was born. And written. The book never got published, but I still have great fondness for it. And it brings back vivid memories of the vacation that spawned it.
Every summer my husband and I used to windsurf in Hawaii for several weeks. And every morning I got up and wrote for two or three hours. On the island of Maui, they still burn the cane fields, and I am highly allergic to the smoke. I would wake in the night, choking and panicky. Solution? I would drive to the other of the island to an all-night coffee shop and sit and write until the wee hours, when I knew the smoke would be gone. Vacation? Sort of.
My debut novel, A KILLING AT COTTON HILL, which comes out in July, was mainly written while I was on “vacation” on our boat in the Caribbean. One of our guests complained that they never saw me until 9 in the morning. That’s because I woke up at 6, brewed a cup of tea, kicked my husband out of the cabin and propped myself up on pillows and got to work.
Last fall we sold that boat—and my biggest regret was that I was losing a magical place to write. So recently my husband decided he couldn’t stand to be without a boat. When he found one he liked, we went to see it. He was off talking to the broker, and when he found me, I was sitting on the bed in the main cabin, propped up on the pillows. He said, “What are you doing?” I said, “I wanted to make sure I could write here. And it’s perfect!” We bought the boat last weekend and I’m looking forward to the productive “vacations” on it.
Next year we have scheduled a month-long trip to Africa. I’m really excited about it. My only reservation? Where and when will I find time to write?