Tag Archives: Vacation

Groggy from vacation

I tend to have two kinds of vacations. The first is more of a retreat where I get away from the distractions of the world and really buckle down. I design a new fractal algorithm, I write several chapters of a novel I’m working on, or I even begin the preliminary designing for a game.

Then there are other vacations where my main accomplishment is playing all of Portal 2 and lots of card games.

This last week  was the latter variant, which is not a bad thing. I spent some time in the cold of the Poconos enjoying the company of my in-laws and wife, playing games of pool in a garish activity center, and getting my butt handed to me in air hockey in the same arena.

Part of my telling you this is to say that the next chapter of The Sky Below will release next week not this week, as I managed to only get about half a draft of the chapter this week. The trouble with not writing most of the week is you feel a bit rusty and it takes a bit to get back up into the same level of production.

So as usual I’m fighting the battle between whether it was good to break from routine and reset my brain, or whether I should have made more of an effort to keep a regular schedule and produce since now I’m having to take time to get back in the swing of things.

Well first off family time is never time wasted, as is quality time with one’s wife, something that is important for the driven writer to remember. We do this because we have stories to tell, but the source of a lot of those stories is our relationships and it’s good to take time to work on them.

Second, even as I sit down here at my laptop in my office I can sense that the routine is coming back to me. I have to go to work in a little while, and I’ll experience some of the same phenomena, wondering how missing only six business days can make me feel so lost for a little while. But it’ll come back to me if I’m not asleep after a couple of hours of morning meetings.

Third, it is never a productive use of time to beat yourself up about time you should have been writing. Better to enjoy the performances of Stephen Merchant and J. K. Simmons in Portal 2 then to feel guilty about playing a game for 10 hours. What you should really feel guilty about was watching those seven Man From U.n.c.l.e.s and your only reading being Bloom County and All Star Superman.

Fourth, as much as writing is a routine, it does have rhythm and an ebb and a flow. While I’m not an advocate for succumbing to that flow on a daily basis, sometimes you might need to on a quarterly, or yearly basis just to hit the reset button. No car keeps running without regular oil changes or filling the gas tank. And writing is work just as much as your real job. Sometimes you need a vacation from both.

But hey, I’m back now and I’ll get to work on Chapter Six tonight. I promise you’ll see it next week and I’ll figure out something you’ll enjoy on Thursday in the meantime.

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The cat is my fault

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Ever since a trip to Punderson a few years ago, leaving our cat Dax at home for more than a few days is a toss up as to which kind of cat we’ll have when we get back. Either she’ll be the lovey, snuggly cat, who missed her humans, or she’ll be the living terror that has peed on everything in the house.

This last trip we got the latter (though she tried to make up for it with some purry snuggling nonetheless). The last few days have brought new discoveries and new locales. Typically she just likes to pee on the front and back doors, but now she added the sink and our piano. Fortunately in both cases the damage was minimal.

Our cat adopted us a little more than four years ago on Halloween night, running up onto the porch on beggar’s night and refusing to leave. Us keeping her rather than giving her to a shelter was entirely my fault. I decided at a critical moment to quote scripture, whatever you do for the least of these you do for me. She was thin and in need and we helped her. And we do love her.

On a completely separate note Brian and I were having a conversation a few weeks ago with a woman who was describing a restaurant she went to out east (not the east coast rather, but China and the surrounding countries). She said that the only things with four legs they didn’t eat were tables and chairs. Writing this as my cat tries to suck up to me because she suspects what I’m writing I think, just for a second, they might have the right idea.

But isn’t she cute?

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My wife is right, this cat is totally my fault.

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On a Writer’s Retreat

I’m taking a week to work on the book exclusively so updates will be sporadic (or potentially non-existent) this week. Right now I am sitting on a screened in porch sipping coffee and listening to the rain fall. This is my favorite kind of writing weather. Hope all is going well with you.

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The Tilted Cabin

Last week I was on vacation with my wife in the Smoky Mountains.

My ideal vacation (and thankfully my wife’s as well) is a cabin, woods, a hot tub, and seclusion. I’m not a beach guy.

Last year was probably our best year ever for this, in French Lick, Indiana. We had a great little cabin out in the middle of nowhere, but still close enough to the town that we could go antiquing, go to any of a number of great restaurants, or even a winery.

Bryson City on the other hand…

Everything looked better online, including the Amazon Local deal for the cabin. We were in the “lovers” historic cabin. Usually a pretty good sign.

The key word we should have noticed was historic. The cabin was built in the 1920s (ironically about the same time as my house). It even had the same door knobs and frames as my house. And one other thing…

From the front of the cabin to the back there was a 3-5 degree grade. In other words, the cabin sloped downward.

I meant to go to the hardware store so I could actually show you this with a level, but trust me, it makes a difference. On our first day my wife and I stood facing each other and rotated in a small circle in the living room. My wife is 5’10” and I’m 6’4″ so about a six inch difference. In this small circle that difference oscillated from 5 inches to 7 inches (doesn’t sound like much but trust me it’s kind of weird).

This is essentially meant that every time I got off the couch I would stumble into the kitchen counter. Or my wife would slide backward from our scrabble game. And none of the doors would stay open. Walking to the front of the cabin was like climbing a small hill, not a steep one, but enough that you brace yourself and notice ever so imperceptibly.

I don’t want to give anyone the impression we had a bad time. Sure it wasn’t French Lick, but there were still a number of good restaurants and especially good breweries in the area (I brought back a growler I’m intending to open up for the Ohio State game on Saturday). But most of all, it’s time alone with the little red haired girl, which I can’t get enough of. She’s leaving to visit friends next week so time together is especially desirable.

A cabin, even one tilted by tree roots growing under the foundation, is still the best place on earth if it’s with her (and away from work 🙂 ).

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Blog Will Return 10/28 (or 10/29)

Been a little inconsistent with whether the first post of the week is Monday or Tuesday, but regardless next week I am on vacation in the Smoky Mountains with the little red haired girl. In my absence here are a couple of images I’m tossing around for a new banner. What do you think?

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Have a great weekend and week!

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Locational Personality

Are you a different person depending on where you are?

I think we can agree that we act differently depending on WHO we are with. We act differently with our co-workers than we do with people in our church, or our good friends. But what about WHERE we are.

Even co-workers will act differently based on whether it is a meeting, a company event, or talking at a bar.

And what about vacations?

Vacations can certainly change the dynamic of a family from how they are at home. My wife and I tend to adopt a “sense of adventure” meaning we’re willing for a few things to go wrong. We actually travel very well together, even though Google often leads us down a lot of blind alleys. I tend to be less worried about work and the writing.

Now it’s understandable that certain places might put us in a more relaxed state of mind, but making us more willing to deal with difficulty, to forget the concerns that are always on our mind, but it can have an even subtler affect.

I tend to be a bit of a snarky, sarcastic fellow (my wife calls it picking). It’s always meant in fun, like a friendly jab, but it gets tiresome. And yet somehow, when I’m on vacation, I can leave this part of me aside.

Some people use location as an excuse to do whatever they’ve always dreamed of doing (what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas).

I’m not sure why any of this is, but I think it’s something interesting to think about, both in your life, but also in your writing. Part of creating a fully human character involves understanding how we interact with the world, no matter where we find ourselves.

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