Earlier this week the top headline (above the fold on the front page) in the Boston Globe read, “For majority of workers, vacation days go unused.”
I laughed. What’s a vacation?
All right, I’ll admit that I actually took a vacation this year—two weeks in Italy. But I felt so guilty that I had to write a book about it (Reunion with Death, released in November).
I also spent two weeks in Ireland recently—but that was work.
I love my work! I don't need—or want—a vacation, because it feels like my entire life is a vacation.
When I started writing, I had just been fired from what I thought was the perfect job. I was angry and hurt, so I said something like “I’ll show them,” and I started writing. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I had something to prove, and I knew I had started late, so I was trying to catch up. In the end I spewed out roughly a million words before I slowed down. Okay, maybe a lot of them were not good words—the writing was sloppy, the plots were weak, and I kind of dwelt on dark crimes. Yes, now I write cozies, so I must have gotten all that anger out of my system. I also learned a lot about writing along the way.
And I loved it. Once I’d purged that bile, I wanted to keep going. I never went back to a day job, so I had something else to prove: that I might be able to make a living with writing. Took a while (close to ten years), but it finally worked out. Beginners, do not try this without an outside income source! Partner, trust fund, lottery win—all will do just fine.
Nowadays I have found that almost everything I do feeds into my writing. I can’t go to a store without watching other people and wondering, what if they were planning a crime? What secrets do they have? I can’t admire a pretty landscape without looking for places to hide a body, or picturing a corpse washing ashore. Everything becomes fodder for some future book (the ex-government administrative employee who is now raising alpacas on a farm in western Massachusetts is definitely going to show up—I met her at a tag sale).
The trip to Ireland was certainly work: I talked to quite a few pub owners and employees, including the woman who owns what used to be the pub that is the model for Sullivan’s in my County Cork books. I got an impromptu lesson on Irish whiskey from a liquor distributor who also happened to be the evening’s entertainment at a Dublin pub. I talked to one bar maid who wants to go back to school to become a forensic analyst, and a nice young man who was planning to go abroad to teach English as a second language. I talked to yet another pub owner about the food service regulations imposed on establishments by the European Union.
In the past I’ve traveled just to see things, and I loved it then. Now I “see” things through a different lens, and it’s still wonderful. Plus writing gives me a reason to go places and talk to people, which is always a good thing since being a writer means spending a lot of time glued to a chair in front of a keyboard and talking to the cats.
I love being a writer.
Coming February 4th!