by JT Ellison
I went to the beach last week. It was supposed to be a celebration, a reward for hard work. My trip was preceded by another one of those insane deadline weeks – coming off four days of travel for the South Carolina Book Festival, the fifth book, THE IMMORTALS, was nearly finished. I'm talking inches away from being submission ready. I was just going through one last tweaking revision based on my critique partner's comments when the page proofs of EDGE OF BLACK came in. Cue panic, and scrambling. What was supposed to be a leisurely revision became an all out push to make sure both books got their proper due.
In a feat worthy of David defeating Goliath, I managed. Hubby went another four days without leafy greens and I turned in both books with an unbelievable sigh of relief. Washed my hands of them. Sent them to the powers that be and let them worry about it. Because I NEEDED A VACATION.
Florida was sunny and warm. My flight was eventful, only because of my elderly seatmate who was tippling in the Bloody Marys. She skedaddled off the plane when we landed in Orlando, but she was continuing the flight on to Ft. Meyers so the flight attendants had to capture and reseat her before anyone else got off. Tipsy little old ladies = herding cats. Priceless.
The beach was welcoming, salty air and ocean breezes. Lovely, really. Deep breaths. Unwind.
I spent the first day there on the horn to
New York worrying about a section of EDGE that might have a copyright
issue, and another day dealing with a long-overdue project that needed
some TLC so I could get it off the ground, which of course involved 17
emails of back and forth discussion – all of which I attempted on the
iPhone whilst laying in the sun. Bikinis and iPhones don't mix unless
you're on Girls Gone Wild, which I certainly wasn't.
With the advent of laptops and iPhones, I know I have to go to
Herculean efforts to actually get away. So I tried. I really did try. I put the phone away (but I had to keep
checking to make sure the copyright issue was settled.) I turned the
laptop off (but I had to turn it back on because I had to read a book
for a blurb that was on it. Note to self – always, always insist on hard copies from here on out.)
Did I get a vacation? Well, sort of. I walked on the beach, read three books, played two rounds of golf, ate fish three times and had salads daily to fight off impending scurvy, went to the movies (WATCHMEN was very cool) and saw three more at home, and attended a dinner party with friends and fans. We watched the shuttle launch, and I have to tell you, there in nothing, NOTHING, cooler than a sonic boom that shakes the very earth. Humbling as hell. And of course, I engaged in that time-honored vacation tradition – Twitter.
That's a pretty full week, to be honest. Aren't you tired just thinking about it? Because I'm exhausted.
Here's the problem. The whole time – laying on the beach, teeing off, reading, relaxing – a little voice inside my head kept banging away. "You need to get back to work, JT. You have a book due in September. You know you'll have to do revisions on THE IMMORTALS in the middle of that, and plan a tour for EDGE. There's that cool standalone book you started that's suddenly gelling that needs your attention. You have to finish the project your promised for ITW. You need to do your newsletter, and… and… and…."
Damn voice. I'd like to strangle it, but that might hamper my efforts to be creative, and we can't have that.
I've learned that when the Muse is speaking, you kind of have to tell everyone and everything to shove off and get whatever she's saying out of your head and down on paper so you don't lose it. I'm a firm believer in all good ideas stick like glue in your mind, but I also know my brain well enough that I know if I don't write these brilliant gems down somewhere, they will eat at me.
In the middle of it all, while I was supposed to be relaxing, I formatted a new document and wrote the first line of book six, THE PRETENDER.
So much for vacation.
Remember a few months ago I started working a new system of organization into my daily writing life? It's working. My Moleskine is filling up with ideas. My inbox stays empty. My To Do list stays manageable. My deadlines are met, my daily word counts pile up. All good things. I feel very much in control of all these balls that I'm juggling. Sometimes, to be honest, I think too much in control. Therein lies the problem. I need to find a way to let it all go, stop worrying, thinking, plotting and planning, and just be. There's not enough of just being anymore. And I have a feeling I may not be the only one with this problem.
My question for you today – what advice can you give to help? Any great tips or ideas for turning it all off, for living in the moment? Because I'd love to hear some…
Wine of the Week: Of course found at the beach – Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel – EXCELLENT!