I'm happy to be writing this blog post from my parents' backyard in Los Angeles. After a crazy summer with few chances to stop and catch my breath, I needed to get away from life in New York. When I want to relax and not worry about anything more pressing than when to walk the dogs or what to make for dinner I come here -- my home away from home.
Taking a vacation from my day job at the TV station doesn't mean I took a vacation from writing. Into my suitcase my trusty binder full of manuscript pages and outlines went. My iPad, a Moleskein I carry everywhere, and a ridiculously high number of pens made the trip too. The big deal isn't that I brought all of these things with me. Instead it's that I promised myself I would actually use these tools. I haven't always been so good about making good on that.
Around this time last year I decided it was time for an author grow up moment. It was time to start treating writing as a full-time job. My friend Mary Chris Escobar has a great blog post about this. She's decided to own the phrase, "This is not your side hustle." I couldn't have said it better myself. This isn't my side hustle. This is my second career.
Now I write on the subway to and from work. Sometimes, when I can squeeze in a lunch break, I take my iPad upstairs and do a little work in the cafeteria. I used to worry about my coworkers getting curious as I've decided not to start telling them I write until I had something to show for it (ie "My book is coming out next Fall," etc.). It turns out that most people aren't observant enough to notice. This routine makes my writing goal -- five pages, five days a week -- a bit more attainable. Sometimes I make it. Sometimes I don't. Sometimes it's complete drivel and I later leave the page bleeding with edits. What matters is that I always sit down and write.
Because I spend most of my days writing around my work schedule, going on vacation means plenty of unstructured time to work. It also means time to think. Saturday afternoon I took myself on a solo drive up the coast. I stopped somewhere over the Los Angeles County border in Ventura, and got out to put my toes in the surf and have a long think. I also brought that notebook I mentioned earlier with me. Good thing I did because as soon as my feet hit the Pacific the floodgates opened.
I now have a solid idea of the next characters I want to write about. They're taking shape in my mind, and I'm loving the process of getting to know them. At the same time, I'm barreling through the last third of what I've come to think of as "My sports novella," although it's starting to swell to novel-length proportions. We'll see in revisions if it shrinks or grows.
I'm making my way back to New York Tuesday morning, so I'm saying goodbye to the luxurious, unstructured days of writing I've been enjoying. It's just another thing I'll miss about leaving California along with the sunshine, family, and two rambunctious puppies who always make it interesting.