I was going to write about words and how we hide behind them; but something got in the way. It’s called a holiday — and I suspect many of my fellow writers know that holidays are something we hide behind as well. I came away with my laptop; with a plan for a first draft (first few chapters complete); and a hard copy of a first draft, pending review. I had my editor’s red pen with me, together with a pile of notebooks (in the unlikely event that the laptop died and I ran out of paper) and I bagged the tiny room with a view of the garden as my study.
And then I didn’t do anything. Or not much, unless you count a rough thousand words that I daren’t read back, and a bizarre few hours spent flicking back through my published works and agonising about everything that I now realise is wrong with them.
You may think this is entirely reasonable, but for me it’s odd. Writing is a hobby. On a normal Sunday afternoon when there’s nothing else going on, I’ll rush for my laptop and scribble a few pages when everyone else is busy. I relax of an evening by doodling maps of fictional locations or drawing spiderweb diagrams of every character’s relationship with every other.
And yet, on holiday, I don’t do it. I have tons of ideas, but I never write them up (or down). I wander around in a series of tiny dreams; and then I get back to wherever we’re staying and… reach for a Sudoku puzzle. Or flick through the nearest book. Or stare out of the window at the view (the English Lakes, this time, should you be interested, and a fine view it was, too).
It isn’t because there are distractions. There are distractions in everyday life as well, and I write around those — often, through them, or instead of dealing with them, because writing is a therapy as much as a relaxation. But maybe it’s the knowledge that there’s nothing I have to do that makes me do nothing — even when I want to.
I know I could be so much more productive while everyone else is snoozing in the garden or in front of the telly. But actually I wonder if my brain somehow understands that even a mind geared to writing needs a little break from time to time.
If I’m honest I feel better for a week without words (of my own, at least). I’m refreshed and raring to go. Watch out, world!