Sunday, July 10, 2011

Just Try and Take a Vacation From Writing

As you’ll know from my last blog, I was recently on a week’s vacation in the Okanagan. Given that I’ve worked on five different Casey Holland mysteries, a couple of short stories, plus countless blogs and reviews over the past sixteen months, it seemed like a good idea to let my brain shut down a bit. Admittedly, I brought two projects because, after thirty years, I still love writing and didn’t have the usual barrage of housework and errands to do. But the truth of the matter is that I’m a writer twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. So, when I see, hear, feel, or sense something out of the norm, the antenna perk up and ideas form. Not surprisingly, I came back with notes for scenes or situations that wouldn’t have occurred to me before this trip.

One of them involves Canada Day festivities which happened the day we arrived in Penticton. It was warm, dry day, and tons of people were in town to celebrate Canada’s 144th birthday. When the sun went down we strolled along the beach promenade toward the source of festivities. The walkways on both sides of the busy street were packed with people of all ages carrying flags, glow-in-the-dark wands, and sporting flag tattoos. Everyone was smiling, chatty, exuberant. When the fireworks began we found a spot to sit and soon found ourselves amongst some beer-swilling wedding attendees from the nearby hotel. One of them started singing God Save the Queen when the fireworks lit up the sky. Who knew that anyone under thirty even knows the words? There were so many images, so much fun and color and noise that I jotted down two full pages of notes, thinking this would make a cool scene for a future Casey novel.

On our way out of Penticton a week later, we drove past a blue tarp-covered tent by the roadside on Highway 97. Police cruisers and road markers made it pretty obvious (to this crime writer) that there was probably a body beneath the tent. I felt a little trepidation and sadness as I drove past that scene. A couple of hours later, a news report confirmed that a passerby had found a body in the ditch the night before. Identity, as of that time, was unknown.

There were other scenes and spectacular views that may or may not work their way into my fiction. While I don’t actively look for this stuff, my brain is constantly recording, making connections, and producing threads for possible use later on. There’s no escaping being a writer, at least at this point in my life, but I've come to realize that I wouldn’t want it any other way.

THE OPPOSITE OF DARK,, Chapters/Indigo


Misha said...

I'm like that too, although I'm finding that my mind is a bit more sluggish on the connections now that I'm focusing on revisions.


Debra Purdy Kong said...

Yes, connections work best when you're working on ideas for plots and first drafts!