Over the past few months I’ve compared writing to walking, mixing a drink, cooking, and baseball, and you’ve indulged my metaphorical ramblings. But writing is like going on vacation? No siree. Writing is work, hard work. Work that takes dedication and thought and effort. Lots of effort. I’d rather clean my bathtub grout with a toothbrush than figure out why my main character refuses to confront his brother for embezzling money from the restaurant. Pul-lease. Writing is hard. My head hurts just thinking about it.
But what if it isn’t? What if it’s like making a list, packing a bag, gassing up the car, and zooming away from your life for a while to visit parts unknown? What if it’s a free pass to try out things you’d never do?Continue Reading
Agatha Christie at Waikiki, 1922, courtesy of the British Surfing Museum, http://www.museumofbritishsurfing.org.uk
I was elbow-deep in my first novel when my second novel arrived. Since Novel 2 concerns premature babies, its timing seemed appropriate. For a week, I pacified Novel 2 with light research and a thousand words of writing. There, I told it. Wait. I headed back to the hard, long slog of nowhere-near-done Novel 1.
Then Novel 3 arrived. This was becoming a problem.
You may see this as abundance. To you, calling three novels clamoring for attention a “problem” is like whining about paper cuts from $100 bills. You might also see this as a typical phase of Novel 1’s development—the “What Now?” Phase, in which the first fifty pages of a project shoot out in a month, then…well, you wait around. Maybe you clean your house.
But I see the arrival of Novels 2 and 3 as a plea from my imagination: Take me on vacation! It’s not that my mind doesn’t want to write fiction; it does, and I’m making space. What my mind wants is Beach Writing: writing that changes the scenery, literarily and emotionally, from the labor of Novel 1. Writing with bright, inviting landscapes. Writing that ventures into new forms and genres. Writing with carnival rides and flowering vines and witty repartee and people drinking margaritas, and heck, why not? with people having sex.