Do Writers Go On Vacation?

So I’ve taken the last week off.

Well, actually, a writer never takes time off.  Someone once said, “A writer is never not writing,” and it’s become one of my mantras.  I’ve been writing poetry in the early morning as usual, I’ve been setting myself up in a different work space in the country and just this morning, I typed PART 3 at the top of a new screen.  But for the last week, I haven’t been sitting down at a designated time, turning off the email, and allowing myself to become completely absorbed, to fall into the dream if you will, of my current book.  But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing.

I always carry a notebook with me and as usual,  I’ve been jotting down titles of books I want to read, ideas for poems, descriptions of a scene or a person in front of me.  That’s writing.

I’ve been trying to teach myself iambic pentameter by creating as many as I can scribble down in ten minutes (from an exercise in Stephen Fry’s wonderful book THE ODE LESS TRAVELED).  Here’s my favorite.  “The chairs recline as if they had a right/to be the humans they’re supposed to host.”  That’s not good poetry, but I think it counts as iambic pentameter. (I have a tin ear when it comes to meter.)  And it means I’m writing.

I’ve been eavesdropping in diners at breakfast. That’s writing.

I’ve been walking and browsing in stationery stores and knitting and swimming laps and listening to recorded books and all the time, my mind is wandering, and all of that is part of my writing process.  Things are cooking in my unconscious mind, so that when I come back from vacation and sit down at the computer,  the book will surprise me by suddenly opening up in a new direction. The work my unconscious mind does when I’m “on vacation,” informs and directs and enriches the writing I do when I’m planted in the chair.

But the vacation time, the “never not writing”, wandering time cannot go on for too long or else I get grumpy.  I call it creative anxiety.  I snap at my husband, make mistakes in my knitting, tense my shoulders when swimming.  It creeps up on me.  It means I have to get my ass to the chair, my fingers to the keys, the words moving on the screen.

It means vacation is over.