Not a literal one.

Wrote this post. Had a text conversation with someone. Checked the weather, tides, and baseball results. Read a book. Played a few games. All using technology.

The vacation part is that none of those tasks were not work-related or work, in general. No websites for money. No I must do this this way and by this time. Just me living in the present doing what I wanted and taking in life and knowledge.

Reading to help and inspire my muse

I’m about thirty-nine percent through If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit by Brenda Ueland. Originally written in 1938, it’s not a quick read. Nor it is one of those “How to” or “Rules” books disguised as well-meaning advice.  This is observations on writing from a writer, meant to inspire thought and creativity.

The book is written as if Brenda is talking to her readers. Phrasing is a little more formal and dry. It also talks about familiar concepts, but in different terms. For example, “living in the present” would be more like mindfulness. Lots of places to pause and think, or chuckle, especially when she hits a nerve or two.

I found that many gifted people are so afraid of writing a poor story that they cannot summon the nerve to write a single sentence for months.

I’m not at that point. I’ve been writing, but I’m definitely struggling to get the words out.

Writing with a high level of self-doubt

A published author with two books, I’m battling the need to justify everything from my name to my series title. “Helpful” remarks by a few people have put me on the defensive about them. I’m questioning their validity, especially when I see other indies having no apparent problems making a living with their writing. Socal media has begun to resemble the schoolyard with its clicks and popular people. It’s to the point where I feel I have to be perfect from the get go, even with my rough drafts.

This puts unnecessary pressure on my muse, who hates rules and boxes. It wants to be free to write, create, and think. Not logical, problem-solving thinking. More like molding and forming an idea into prose, structured but still malleable for the editing phase. Like how Brenda describes :

…inspiration does not come like a bolt, nor is it kinetic, energetic striving, but it comes into us slowly and quietly and all the time, though we must regularly and every day give it a little chance to start flowing, prime it with a little solitude and idleness.

The idleness is not the self-criticizing, dwelling on past mistakes, whatifing myself to death kind that always seems to blow up in my face and leave me feeling worse than if I didn’t think at all. No, it’s more the half-daydream, imagination-freeing contemplation that happens when I can hear and feel my characters as if I’m standing side by side with them.

I haven’t been in that mood for a few weeks. Closest I’ve come is when I’m working a scene with Jo, my MC, because I so easily identify with her. Everyone else has been there, but I’m not sure I captured them in the right way. Right being more a subjective my style vs the objective “Did I follow the necessary rules of grammar and storytelling?”.

That’s why the vacation was so important. A deliberate break so I could sit back and think while not thinking. I still have my doubts and worries, but they don’t seem as pressing. At least not by the end of the day.

I’m going to try and keep that frame of mind with my writing until I finish Brenda’s book and the three others an author friend gave me. I’m not sure where their insight will take me, but it’s got to be a better place then where I am now.