The notion of vacation is a strange one when you work everyday but don't go to work any day and when work and not-work look so much alike. My husband, son, border collie, and I spent last week on Blakely Island with the wonderful writer Katherine Malmo and her family. On the one hand, it was vacation definitionally -- we were away from home. On the other hand, it was pretty home-like: same general topography if a much better view of it, same weather, same activities. In part, activities were the same of necessity. Small children will be entertained; they will leave the house; they will run about; otherwise, you will be sorry. Then they will nap during which you will try to accomplish something. Then they will need to be entertained out of the house whilst running again. In between, they'll need to eat. Blakely is not an island like, say, Oahu, with restaurants and such. It's the other kind. So another home-like activity on this vacation was the preperation of meals three times a day.
Meantime, one of the very best things about writing as one's job is the fairly legitimate justification of reading books as work. Do I learn how to write novels by reading novels? For sure. Still? Even after all the novels I've read and the couple I've written? Hell yes. Can I continue to write novels without constantly reading them? No. No way. Do I take notes and add marginalia and look things up and write small essays reflecting on what I've read, what I've learned from it, and how I might implement those lessons myself? I do, always, but a) that is fun as far as I'm concerned, b) I've been doing it so long that it's part of reading for me, so c) that's not what makes it work. Reading is work insofar as it's part of my current job description. But it looks an awful lot like reading for pleasure.
So on this vacation, while my kid was asleep, my husband and I sat out on the deck overlooking the sound, listening to ballgames on the radio, watching the sun set until about 11 o'clock every night, and reading books (and taking notes and writing about them -- well, I did that; my husband just read). It is indeed hard to overstate how amazing the view was and how different from the one off my own tiny deck. But is that enough to account for the difference in attitude? I'm not sure it is. Vacation reads are the best ones. And vacations just feel different from real life, even when you spend your days doing nearly the exact same things, even when you're blessed with a day job whose to-do list includes, "Read a new book."
My vacation backyard.
My actual backyard.
About The Author
Laurie Frankel writes novels (reads novels, teaches other people to write novels, raises a small person who reads and would like someday to write novels) in Seattle, Washington where she lives on a nearly vertical hill from which she can watch three different bridges while she's staring out her windows between words. She's originally from Maryland and makes good soup.