Sunday, January 13, 2008

What Do Writers Do On Vacation?

Last summer in her column for The Telegraph, Louise Doughty wrote about coming up with an idea for a children's book while vacationing in Spain, though she didn't know how she would find time to write about it.

I'm afraid that kind of thing happens all the time.

While on vacation down south, I purchased a book on some state's (I don't even remember which one) local folklore because I thought I might use that in a book some day. After visiting the Hagley Museum in Delaware, a restored village where the duPont family got its start in this country making explosives, I bought some materials on the duPonts because I thought nineteenth century explosives was a subject that cried out for a children's book.

I don't know where any of that stuff is now.

However, I do know where I put the stack of junk I kept related to a pretty mind-numbing cruise I took a number of years ago. I held on to that because I thought a mind-numbing cruise sounded like a good idea for a children's book, too.

And then one year we went to Myrtle Beach with another family. The crowd included two teenagers of opposite sexes who were dating. By which I mean dating each other. I didn't bring home much from that vacation (maybe a pecan roll), but I was sure the experience would make a great YA book.

This vacation (all two days of it) I've been collecting ideas for a new project I'm considering. With any luck, this won't involve buying anything I have to take home and lose. I often write more in my journal when I'm on vacation, anyway, and being more careful about using the journal was my New Year's resolution, and I do have these ideas I have to collect because for this particular project I will need a great many of them. So, like Doughty, I am getting ideas, but I am also writing them down.

Oh, I'm getting the hang of using the laptop, too.

So, that's the kind of thing we do on vacation--come up with writing ideas, write in our journals, and practice using new computers. When I was considering writing as a profession, I was hoping for vacations spent running with bulls, drinking on beaches with colleagues, deepsea fishing, reading newspapers in foreign bars, maybe a little hunting for elk or something. I definitely feel cheated.

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