Monday, May 16, 2016

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

Last year my sister and her boyfriend were supposed to go on this crazy trip to the Caribbean – super sweet resort, all inclusive, turquoise water, and only 1 stop on the 3400 mile flight – with two of their friends. But between injuries, unforeseen issues, and other necessary delays, the trip was postponed to April of this year.

When they considered rescheduling back in December, Matt & I were first asked if we’d like to take the place of their friends. After having just taken a really long vacation around Thanksgiving there was no way we could do it. I mean, not only the issue of time off but the cost.

My sister told me to get my damn passport renewed anyway (something Matt and I had been putting off for too long) and so we did. And then promptly forgot all about it.

That was, until February when this question came our way:

“So, those guys just moved to Hawaii and can’t make the trip, you guys busy at the end of April or would you like to go to St. Lucia all expenses paid***?”

***(sort of, more on that in a bit)

And so I started thrift shopping for this trip of a lifetime that I never in a million, billion years would have expected to be taking.

Passports showed up, clothes were purchased, but I couldn’t concentrate on the trip. I had a party to plan this past spring.

Matt, my love, was officially joining the ranks of “old man” status with his 40th birthday. And I’d been planning his event since January. A surprise party. At a baseball game right downtown at Chase Field.

The sneaking around, the lies and deceit, the preparations for 24 people including his family coming in from 3 different parts of the country, friends who were kind enough to pay for their own tickets, meant get-togethers and taking cash from friends on the down low.

The last thing I did from January to early April was think about St. Lucia.

But then it was time to party at Chase with Matt’s mom, sister, all 3 nephews, dad, step-mom, SIL, MIL, BIL , friends. The euphoria was like Thanksgiving dinner – months to plan and cook, over in a matter of hours.

Pictures were shared, laughs were recounted, everyone went home. And then it was mere weeks away from our departure to the Caribbean. I still barely believed it was real.

In fact, if I’m being perfectly honest here, I still don’t believe that it actually happened. It was like I lifted out of my own body and watched someone who looked like me partying in an all-inclusive resort at the edge of the most beautiful water I’d ever seen for a full week.

Things like this just don’t happen to me and Matt. We aren’t wealthy people. We do okay and pay our bills on time and stuff but a trip like this? No. Never before and never expected. Ever.

To tell all the details would bore everyone, trust me. Our entire first day of vacation was summarily stolen by a number of problems with a number of airplanes and we spent 8 un-scheduled hours in Miami International Airport. That story might become a book someday.

After that debacle the week went by in a blurry haze of sun, sand, salt air, vodka cranberry, sunscreen, dancing, laughs, amazing food, and an overflowing level of gratitude that I could hardly contain. It forced me to notice everything, every tiny detail of every tiny moment we all spent together on that island. The people, the scenery, the vibe. Everything.

The trip revived my waning inspiration.

For the past 4 or 5 months I’ve been struggling with Reckless Mind, trying to get the story down but finding it difficult to see the next move, the twists. I’ve started and stopped the book 3 times. One of those times was a complete reboot from the first word.

Before we left I was stressed. So much had happened in the past few years both personally and professionally and no matter how many massages I wanted to get or essential oils I tried to meditate with, nothing seemed to take that stress away.

Some of us like to call it writer’s block.

I like to call it real life taking over the creative thinking process.

There have been so many people to see, things to do, detours that tried to convince me what my path should be when I actually knew all along what really needed to be done for me to find fulfillment.

I needed to write books. Period.

Not freelance blogs, not ghostwriting, not how-to guides or any of the other things I tried to convince myself would be smart choices. No. I need to write books.

Length? Unimportant. Genre? Unimportant. Story? The most important.

As Matt and I walked the beach for about a half hour on the last day (a moment that came way too fast of course), I shared my plan. And it basically encompasses one thing: I’m giving up being a perfectionist.

I’ve said stuff like this before about just writing and not caring. But I never had a clear-cut plan of what that really meant. While we were away I finally put everything together.

In this age of digital reading and the flood of titles out there that’s the number one thing I need – titles. The more you have the more your name is seen. And of course the more it gets seen the more it sinks in, people buy, review, send you to a best seller status.

I have so much work, at least 5 stories I can think of off the top of my head, that I started back when I was a teen or in my 20’s. Most are within chapters of typing “The End” and I finally realized why I might be having trouble writing Mind.

Because I have too many unfinished characters swimming around in my head pool and until I get them out I won’t be able to hear Shaw telling me what she wants me to say.

I told Matt out on that beach that I was looking forward to getting home and he looked at me like I had turned into a crazy person. Maybe I had become a crazy person. Crazy inspired.

So when we got back, after the jet lag wore off, I extracted the first journal out of my big box of languishing work that I’ve been toting around since age 14 and started transcribing.

That story? It started out as character development and about 600 words. Now? After 4 days of non-stop work it’s almost done and hovering around 6,000 words. Just shy in fact. And I already have cover art in mind.

The title. Locked in.

After that one I plan to start with the 5 stories that are long and close to done. All of them, every last one, will be released this year.

My sister was shocked that I’d gotten over my need for perfection but I told her that wasn’t exactly true. I still want the stories to be terrific. I’m still going to edit like crazy. Because the basis for the work might have been okay but I was also 15 when I wrote some of that stuff. It will need major polishing.

But polish I will. And you want to hear a pretty cool side benefit? Since almost finishing this first one I’m hearing the main character, Carol, less and Shaw just a tiny bit more. I even got a bit of her story developed at the same time. That book will see light this year too.

My resolve for what I do has been 100% revived. I’m in love with my job again. So I guess it’s time I got out of here and did it, huh?

I’ll keep you posted as titles drop.

Like rain in the tropics.

***the larger percentage of cost for this trip was fronted by a fantastic person who I will not name here on this blog, but none of it would have been possible without them. My sister and her man also fronted some cash for the trip. So Matt and I are splitting that cost. That was the deal we worked out with the original friend who couldn’t go, because that person just wouldn’t hear it about paying them back for anything. I literally feel my heart swelling with thanks every time I think about how grateful I am to have had this once in a lifetime opportunity. Saying thank you seems a weak sentiment but I feel so thankful, it’s all I can seem to say! Thanks again to all of you amazing people in my life. I am a lucky girl indeed!

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In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.


Launna said...

First Jenn, yay to getting to go on vacation.. I say go whenever you can... it helped you with your writing and that is awesome... Good luck with all your stories xox

River said...

Woo-hoo!! Caribbean vacation! I'm a little envious.
But now I'm thinking about writing. I haven't written a book, ever, I just write short pieces that may or may not finish, for my weekly word challenge. but I also print them out and store them in a binder. Maybe I should reread them and see if I can develop them.