Thursday, April 2, 2015

In Which I Take a Much Needed Vacation and Remember I have a Tattoo

Last week I took a vacation with my family. We drove sixteen hours in one day to get to Port Charlotte, Florida, where my aunt lives in a lovely condo.

I guess I should mention that I have a hard time taking breaks, especially when I am in the middle of a writing project. The story I am writing now is intense and dark and sad and jabbing me in places I don't want to go, but recently I had reached some kind of understanding of It and myself, and I was sort of afraid to be away from it for a week. Through much floundering and angsting and cleaning out closets (both literally and metaphorically) I had stumbled onto a routine that seemed to be working.

Every morning I'd get up, change into my work uniform, suck down the first of many cups of coffee, settle in at my work place, and push my way into my dark story world. If I didn't have the dog freaking out about the secretly psychotic serial killer mailman every day, I might never come out of that world.

[*My work uniform used to be a bathrobe over pajamas, but during the course of writing this book, I have discovered this new kind of pajamas called Yoga Pants. Yoga Pants are awesome because while they are as comfortable as pajamas, they are more socially acceptable -- so when you open the door at 5pm for the UPS guy, with your dog jumping around you having a mini heart attack, you don't feel like a total pajama-wearing sloth.]

It's possible that I am a workaholic.

The schedule for writing this book-- as I have been writing it since the middle of January -- has been: Write all day, with a few brief breaks to eat, walk the dog, pick up my daughter from school, wolf down dinner (that my husband has been graciously preparing), and then go back In until like 9:00 or 9:30 until my brain is fried and my eyes are burning.

I do this on weekends too.

But I decided I might need to take a break. If only to prove to myself and my long-suffering family that I could

1. not write for a week
2. wear something besides yoga pants

Okay. I cheated a little, writing in the mornings while everyone was sleeping, but otherwise, I am happy to say that I enjoyed the vacation.

I've been finishing up The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. One of the hardest exercises for me is what the author calls Artist Dates. What you're supposed to do is take an hour or two each week, just for yourself, to pamper your inner child artist. This sounds ridiculous and new age-y to me even as I write it. It's the one task that I am most eager to skip each week and it is the one thing that I probably need most of all.

It's hard to write a book--at least my crazy way of doing it. At the end of the day I am wrung out. Depleted. Empty.

I have to fill myself back up occasionally. With a trip to a museum. Or a movie. With a walk around the block. Or a walk on the beach.

One day last week I was kicked out in my beach chair, digging my toes in the sand and I was looking at the tattoo of a foot on my foot. I'd sort of forgotten that it was there. It's been covered up all winter under my socks and my yoga pants.

It made me smile to see it.

Getting a tattoo is one of the crazier things I've done in my life. Crazy because it was so unexpected and not like me. And yet I did it, and now I have this symbol of spontaneity and fun and weirdness tattooed on my ankle. Forever.
Huh. Turns out I still have a tattoo.

It makes me want to do other unexpected fun things.

Paint my toenails orange because orange is a color I would never paint my toenails.

Dig a hole in the sand even though I am old and don't have a little kid parked next to me.

A beach hole. 

Eat food without gulping it.

Have conversations without my mind drifting over character arcs.

Sit at a pool and flip through a magazine.

Spend an entire afternoon sipping pina coladas with my husband.

Take a break once in a while and remember that I am a person.


  1. Jody, an artist break is good especially when you are in a deep dark world. I will take you on an artist break every now and then soon. I need to do th opposite of you and get on a writing tear. Enjoy the beach.

    1. Kathy, I am so excited that we are finally going to meet in person : ) Yes! To future artist dates together!