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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Cruising and Other Relaxing Nightmares

Right about now, I'm only six days away from the trip of a lifetime, which includes 5 days in Spain and a 7 day cruise of the Western Mediterranean. In Search of Heroes, I call it, because in a way it's like continuing the adventure I started in 2004 with my trip to England, which was the trip of a lifetime then. And when I get back, a major thing for me to do will be re-vamp my blog, which I will call-- ready for this? In Search of Heroes! Isn't that what romance is all about, anyway?

Writers don't take enough vacations. They take trips, sure, but do they take real vacations? When aren't they studying people in a search for new characters, or evaluating the scenery for settings? Do they ever go into an old building, even the Sistine Chapel, without saying to themselves, "Hm, how can I use this?"

So I'm paying big bucks (okay, big bucks for me) for a nice relaxing tour from Barcelona through Malta, Naples, Pompeii, Rome, Florence, Pisa, Nice and likely Monte Carlo, and maybe even a few other places. In thirteen days. Complete with two trans-continental-
trans-Atlantic flights. And I have a story to finish in the meantime, which seems to just get longer and longer at the end. Relaxing, huh?

We'll climb Montserrat in Barcelona (yeah you say, in what, a wheel chair?) hop a bus down to Tarragona, eat paella until we hate it, walk the city of Mdina, hike up Campanian hills to mountaintop villages, spend ten hours a day combing through ruins, and maybe inadvertantly catch an Italian sunburn. Yeah, relaxing.

Truth is, writers don't ever really relax. We get invigorated instead. We can look at a cracked plaster wall and suddenly we find just the right words to describe bricks instead of plaster. We'll be ordering in a fine restaurant, but secretly listening to the intonation in the waiter's voice. Museums are irresistable-- if the exhibits can't totally overwhelm us with new ideas, there are people all around us. Kids saying funny things, middle-aged women whose faces say what words don't, that oh, they wish they hadn't worn those shoes. Lovers completely absorbed in the amazing beauty of the Hope diamond, yet finding minute fractions of seconds to touch in discreet ways.

Sure, we lay down on massage tables or stretch out on decks beside magnificent swimming pools with the incredible Mediterranean Sea gleaming all around us in the most magnificent color of blue that man has ever seen. But we're secretly all wrapped up in this book of the next. We close our eyes, and to the world we're one more lazy beach bum. But not in our heads. We're testing the feel of the sand beneath our towels or how it squishes warmly between our toes. And we're seeing heroes and heroines making love at the edge of a lazy surf with the tropical sun setting behind distant trees and spreading long golden shadows where it doesn't turn the sea to sparkling like diamonds.

Other people relax. We hunt for new books. Other people have vacations. We have our searches for heroes. They pity us for our obsessions, I think. But do we care? No. We pity them because they have only one life to lead. Isn't that sad?


At 2:32 PM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

Great post, Delle! We usually take one Caribbean cruise a year, and I do manage to get some relaxing done on it, probably because I've never been tempted to write a beach or ship-oriented book. I do admit to writing down snippets of conversation I hear, however. But yes, my other trips are almost always work-related, and invigorating is a good word for them!

At 3:11 PM, Blogger Terry Odell said...

Sounds fantastic. I LOVE cruises. We hardly ever take vacations. Only things tied to business travel.

At 3:19 PM, Blogger Mo H said...

You depict writers on vacation so well! I haven't ever been on a cruise but your discription is very tempting.

At 5:39 PM, Blogger Delle Jacobs said...

But you se, Terry, cruises ARE business travel. I will find plenty of reasons to write off most of my cruise because I write. I fully intend to set a story in the Mediterranean, or make use of the architecture of Malta for a fantasy. Or steal the curls on an Italian hunk who comes dripping out of the sea. There will be notes and photos of Barcelona's famed Familia Sagrada cathedral-- can you imagine a modern "Murder in the Cathedral"? I will not only use every inch of the trip for writing, I will have a world of documentation to satisfy the IRS and my hard-nosed step-daughter accountant.

Not hubby, though. He's just along for the ride. Another one of those pitiable non-writer folk.

A good thing about cruises id there's lots of down time. Which of course means "relaxing", writers' style. But you know those commercials that show the guy sitting on the beach with his laptop? Bad. Laptops don't work in bright sunlight-- any sunlight, actually. And who would ever take the chance of getting sand in their keyboard?

At 5:49 PM, Blogger Terry Odell said...

Well, I'm too cowardly to write off a cruise without at least a contract on that book. I can see the IRS coming to my door. Heck, I cower when I think about deducting 'reading for pleasure' books as writing expenses, even though I'm learning the craft with every book I read.

I took the KOD on-line class about taxes for writers, and that didn't encourage me to risk writing off that kind of travel. Not until I have a few more books under my belt, and maybe show that I can at least break even on my writing.

We were in South Africa for a month (a week of it business), and yes, I was using my 'writer brain' during the whole trip, but I don't have a book set there. I figure I'll use the information eventually, but I've yet to say, "I want to write a book set in XX so we'll go there, and then I hope I can sell it."

Some day. Hubby used to do a LOT of business travel, and I'd tag along. Pre-writing days. Now, he comes with me to my conferences, but we've yet to take a writing research trip.

At 8:08 PM, Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

Great post, Delle! I can definitely see me taking a research trip like that! Wish it wasn't so long ago. I could write off my three years in England and my 2.5 years in Germany as research!!

You are right about writers not relaxing and vacationing like other people. I do, however, try to spend some quality time vegging out on my five acres, soaking up the peace and quiet and atmosphere so that I don't end up going postal at Wal-Mart

At 8:42 PM, Blogger Delle Jacobs said...

I think it is very important to be real about your research. I'm working on a Mayan time travel, a sort of back burner thing, which inspired our Mexican trip a few years ago. But I only used the tours and things that really pertained to the story.

This trip is really major though, and the cruise itself is actually cheaper than a hotel in Rome. I don't think you could deduct full years living abroad. But I'm not sure. My CPA step-daughter is really careful, not wanting her daddy to end up in jail, and she's very knowledgeable. So I run everything by her before giving her my expenses for the year. She says I have enough passive deductions as it is that I could never live long enough or sell enough to use them up. She assumes thew NYT list is not in my future, of course, and I tend to agree with her since that isn't part of my goals.

At 10:40 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Lucky you, Delle! Love this post and the title! LOL

I hope you have a WONDERFUL trip and come back with a few heroes, too!


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