For me, writing and traveling are an all-or-nothing pairing. Sometimes, it’s very easy for me to make the time to write in between an early breakfast and a late meeting, or it’s the perfect way to spend time while others nap and recover in the afternoon. Other times, it’s a trial to make it to the minimum word count after a day of traveling or sightseeing or meetings, and I’m doing my best to ignore the stabbing pains in my lumbar vertebrae as I remember how to put down words in a manner that somewhat resembles the English language.
So far, it’s been a toss-up. I’ve had a few days where I’ve sat up late and struggled to get the words out, and I’ve had a few afternoons where the words have just flowed from my fingertips. Having a bit of music in my ears and not being able to hear what’s on the televison in the hotel room definitely helps, but being sore and slightly dehydrated affect the quality of words and the speed at which I can type.
But hey, vacation. I can safely say that getting away from the dayjob for a while gives me a lot to think about when it comes to story ideas. Having time in the car on the way up the interstate or while we walk through downtown areas that I don’t get to see in my usual corner of suburbia helps with plot germination. Those who’ve met me in person note that I’m not much of a talker; I get a lot out of listening to people tell stories and discuss their experiences. People are delightful and fascinating creatures, so traveling gives me the chance to see more people and places in a way that one can’t via the internet or traditional media. I’m happy to wander through a city on the way to some landmark, stop for a coffee at some tiny sidewalk place, and just sit and watch for the new and interesting as it happens.
Traveling with family, unfortunately, makes me very anxious. It’s partly a safety issue; my kids are products of suburbia, so their city-savvy isn’t innate. It’s little things, like moving to the side when you hear the bike behind you and standing back from the corner because not every car is going to obey the traffic signal. It’s partly their ages, too; it’s hard to just wander with a five-year-old and it’s unrealistic to expect her to keep up for five miles and not become bored. In these cases, having the opportunity to sit down and get words out is cathartic. It gives me the chance to step back and recenter… feel ‘adult’ in a way, I guess. Decompression through words.
Trust me, it’s important. Coffee and laptop or notebook once a day makes for a more pleasant experience for all involved.
Word-wise, I’ve kept working on Charlie Duke and the Outer Colonies. The short stories that I had intended as character and setting exploration have grown into a novella’s worth of words, and I haven’t arrived at a good stopping point. I think I know how to get the story to a strong conclusion to set Charlie up for the other short stories, but it’s going to take more words and some more thought. I haven’t really sat down and mapped out the timeline for her and the others in the Outer Colonies, mostly because I know how easily worldbuilding can distract me from the story at hand. At the same time, it’s going to be a necessary evil so I have the structure for the rest of the world. Perhaps that will be a project for later this vacation, who knows.
I have the rest of Hollow to finish editing, which will probably be this afternoon’s order of business once I finish this blog post. I keep procrastinating with that piece, partly because I know how long it will take to finish and partly because I want to dedicate that time to new words rather than just editing. But… again, necessary evil. Hollow needs to be done, perhaps with a new title, but it needs to be finished and sent to some beta readers so I can finish it and move ahead.
The combination of sightseeing, a new book, and finishing the first season of a very good animated series have stoked the imagination for a return to my fantasy world of Wedderby. I’ll likely put down more ideas for that setting during the trip, especially with the amount of lighthouse sighting and seafaring settings that will accompany the second part of the vacation. At this point, it’s become a kind of tradition for me to add to that world when I escape from the working world. It’s my indulgence in a way. It’s my hope that when I have the chops to write the story, I’ll have enough set out in the world to make it worthwhile.
For now, though… it’s time to shift to editing Hollow and knock out a few pages with my trusty pen. I’ll hit up Charlie and the Outer Colonies tomorrow and figure out where she’s going with her story. Come to think of it, I did leave her in the middle of a battle with a handful of marauders only a half-day’s travel to a neutral station…