Friday, June 18, 2010

On Vacation

"A writer never has a vacation. For a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing."

~ Eugène Ionesco

Vacation. What a glorious word. This week I’ve been on vacation with my family. Not going to my usual IT job, not spending much time at home, mostly. But do writers ever really take vacation? I tend to agree with the quote I chose to open this blog posting. I think us writer types are always writing even when our hands are not clutching pens or tapping away on keyboards—or at minimum we’re always gathering new material.

One of my work colleagues recently asked me where my writing ideas come from. I’m not entirely sure, but for me finding new ideas is in part just a process of living day-to-day and accumulating new experiences (or reliving old ones) to add to the memory banks. There they can be mulled over immediately or added someplace into the subconscious where eventually they might find their way either intact or modified into some new form onto the written page by my writer’s mind.

Some of my recent vacation activities/experiences/writing exercises:

· Attended two weddings and a graduation party.

· Woke to the patter of north woods’ rain on a cabin roof with the ghostly calls of loons echoing across the nearby, misty lake

· Had a conversation with a U.S. artillery engineer about his day job.

· Started a fire with which to char marshmallows.

· Wondered where all the convoys of Humvees were going off to.

· Passed a town in Iowa called Hope. The bright orange sign over its exit read “CLOSED.”

· Rescued a recklessly ambitious turtle from atop a five-foot tall rock wall. Avoided being peed on by same turtle. Apparently a one-pound turtle is made up of about 14 ounces of pee.

· The following day watched 180(!) kids compete in a turtle race. Was sorry I’d let the previous turtle go—he would have made a helluva racer.

· Watched skeptically from a beach chair as my 7-year-old son declared he was going to catch frogs. Became a believer when he kept running back to my chair eight times, insisting that I take a picture of each frog, and that I say goodbye to each one of them before he’d let them go.

· Chatted with someone who was once offered John Wayne Gacy’s business card. (OK, that was slightly before my vacation, but it’s freaky enough I won’t forget it soon.)

· Learned of antique fishing lures with names like “The Ghost” and “Baby Tom” and “The Luminous Flying Hellgrammite.” (The last is my favorite and I think perhaps would make a good superhero name)

· Swam. Paddled both a canoe and a kayak. Rowed a boat.

· Drove a go-cart: came in second place, being unable to pass only the 15-year-old girl with her streaming copper-blonde hair that looked like speed-induced flames as I ate her dust. She will be a terror when she gets her driver’s license next year, but no cop will be able to catch her. NASCAR scouts would be wise to seek her out.

· Read “Breathless” by Dean Koontz and “Percy Jackson & The Olympians; The Lightning Thief,” by Rick Riordan.
Both good reads that I’d recommend.

· Witnessed a man (who physically reminded me of Fred Flintstone) consume a 34-ounce porterhouse steak (bronto-steak?) to the euphoric adoration of his four children. He got a free t-shirt out of the deal. In the meantime, I sulked at my corner table being scorned by my family for my inability to finish my 8-ounce burger.

· Tried a half dozen new wines. After enough wine my writing ideas take on a different flavor.

· Was given the honorific title of, “best guy ever” (their words, not mine) by a swarm of children that watched me land a bass of maybe 2 pounds on a sunset dock. They rushed in asking questions like, “Does it have a tongue?” and “Are you going to eat it?” Once I unhooked the fish and showed them that it did indeed have a tongue I perplexed them greatly by letting the fish go. The fish on the other hand, enjoying his freedom, I believe agreed with my new title.

So those tidbits are the things I remember from this brief vacation—and I’m sure there are many more now lurking in my subconscious. These experiences have been added to my brain and are waiting there, composting, until ready to make an appearance somewhere on one of my future written pages.

In the meantime here’s hoping that you, writer or not, manage to squeeze in a vacation or at least some relaxation & fun into your summer.


Too much work, and no vacation,

Deserves at least a small libation.

So hail! my friends, and raise your glasses,

Work's the curse of the drinking classes.

~Oscar Wilde


Jon said...

Passed a town in Iowa called Hope. The bright orange sign over its exit read “CLOSED.”

That's awesome.

Great blog, Mark! See you Monday.

Qlaudie said...

Fantastic! I love all these!
“The Luminous Flying Hellgrammite.” DEFINITELY needs to be a superhero. Get on that.
Best Guy Ever indeed.

Shawn Enderlin said...

great post Mark! sounds like you had a great time!