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?