A Writer on Vacation

Part One: Not Writing

The weight
Of a thick, gray cloud
Pressed down
And choked out signs
Of the sun.

Everything was muted.
“And damp,” I thought.
Like my mood.

When the rain fell,
For the fourth time that day,
It hissed.
It struck the surface
Of the lake
And hissed.

Like I did,
At my husband.
Spewing venomous complaints.

I slammed
Cabinet doors
For effect.
And growled,
“I need space.”

Or, maybe
It was time
With a pen
And paper
That I needed.

So, I turned
to my notebook
And finally,
I wrote.
And, it was then
That the clouds
And the weight


Part Two: Discoveries

A day in town meant laundry and groceries and a stop at my favorite used book store. Among the stacks, I was drawn to the old books, the ones with yellowing pages and fragile bindings. I pulled one from the shelf because of the title, another because of the cover, and a third because of the author.

1. Out of the Mist, by Florence Riddell; 2. He Fell in Love with His Wife, by Edward P. Roe; 3. Here Lies the Collected Stories of Dorothy Parker

Each old book holds several stories: the ones written within the pages and the stories of its own history. When I held them, I wondered who bought the book new and who read it first; who passed it on to a good friend, saying “this one, you won’t be able to put down”; and, through how many hands did it travel before it ended up here – in mine?

After a few hours in the bookstore, and three treasures in the crook of my elbow, we drove back to the camp. Feeling inspired, I finished rewriting chapter one of my WIP (phew!).


Part Three: The Thrill of the Small Town Paper

My husband loves to read the local newspaper from any small town. I might pick through a few articles when he buys one, but most of the time I stick to reading the book I brought. However, The Munising News – a newspaper printed since 1896 – is one you cannot ignore.

It’s physical presence demands attention, with a single sheet measuring almost a foot and a half wide. And, as the front page boasts, it’s “the only newspaper in the world that gives a darn about Alger County.”

The Munising News

The articles give the reader a glimpse into the workings of a small town, and they provide fuel for a writer’s mind. I’m tempted, for one, to write about the challenges of holding that paper in full spread: it’s quite a workout for the neck when you read it from left to right.


What occupies your writer’s mind when you’re unplugged and miles away from home?


14 responses to “A Writer on Vacation

  1. Too bad you live so far away. I’d love to have a visit. I hiss too – or I did until I learned to keep my mouth shut for the first few days of holiday, when we relearn how to butt up against each other. Also, I’m romantical about books.

  2. When I’m “unplugged” and miles away from home, I also go in search of books, books, and more books… as well as new experiences and insights to be able to enrich my writing skills.

    I enjoyed your post! 🙂

    Cheers, Niconica

  3. Oh my gosh! I loved this post. So, so true.

  4. Hard to say what occupies my mind when unplugged since my vacation is still on the horizon! But I do love small town papers and always find stories I want to write hidden in their pages (unfortunately, I lose the sense of place the moment I’m home and the story fades).

    Maybe you’ve prompted me to take notes the moment I read the story during my upcoming vacation.

    I also read lots of novels and usually plan to work far more on my WIP than I actually do 😉

    Hope you are refreshed.

    • Wouldn’t it be fun to exchange small town papers? And, yes, I planned to do much more writing…notice there’s no mention of a completed synopsis in this post. Oh well, finishing the rewrite of chapter one was enough of an accomplishment!

      I hope your vacation is writer-friendly 🙂

  5. I live in a not so very artsy town, so when I visit other towns they tend to be saturated in the arts. Then I get jealous that I don’t live there.

    Last trip I made, I attended a free writer’s workshop at the library. That would so never happen in my town. So instead of unplugged, I’m plugged in, only physically. Then I go home and plug into solitude again.

    • Tricia,

      What a great idea to look for free writer’s workshops when out of town.

      And, sorry to hear your hometown isn’t so writer/artist-conscious. Thank goodness for the Internet, right?

  6. I was just reading a blog the other day. We were all in agreement that we tend to get a bit grumpy if we don’t get to write. I come over here and your saying the same thing!
    Love old books… I’ve found some keepers along the way.
    There is one scene that always come to mind when I’m away from home. I’ve never been able to capture it appropriately on paper. Then it is all up to exploring and experiencing.

    • Funny. I think summer tends to be a “down” time for so many writers (down time, in several contexts).

      And, I hope you find a way to translate that scene from your vision to words!

  7. Wonderful photo of those old books–the second title is great!

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