People who have followed my work over the years know I am a slow writer. Since I do the convention circuit, teach, and travel, I can only do one major project a year and I flip between writing science fiction novels and comics so for some fans they have to wait even longer for my next book in the Other Systems Universe, or my next horror comic or whatever it is they like. More to the point, my first drafts suck. No one should read them.
But whatever my project, this time of year I always seem to get overwhelmed. The non-creative work butts up against the creative side as I’m trying to gather up stuff for the winter/spring conventions, and do taxes and figure out sales from last year. This feeling of being overwhelmed starts as a tiny scratch so subtle that I don’t even realize how low I’m feeling until I am eating way too much chocolate cake because I’m staring at a manuscript that makes no sense, but a few fans have already asked me when its coming. (BTW, no one has pressed in any negative way, these feelings are on me.) And I leave for another convention in a week.
So it happened that on a stretch of two days of unseasonable mostly-cloudless skies and 60 degree weather, my husband mentioned he needed to work until 8:30 one night, I decided to take a day and unwind.
So after I dropped my husband off at work in the morning, I packed up the dogs and headed up to Whidby Island for a long day of hiking.
Since I am the only one with a driver’s license, I drove. The dogs shared the back seat. With good timing, its a little less than a two hour drive from Seattle. (North via I-5 then west on WA-20.)
We visited several different beaches throughout the day and hiked approximately seven miles. With the warm weather and slow pace, Rosie didn’t need to be carried once. She even ran around on the sand.
Our first beach, we were completely alone to wander through the driftwood and pebbles. We climbed to the top of the headland overlooking Rosario Bay to enjoy a snack of cheese. We raced along a sandy spit where we saw four sealions swimming in the surf and up another headland where three does grazed on some grass. On the way home, we stopped for gas and corndogs. They split the inside of one, I ate the other. The dogs thought it was the best dinner ever!
For someone who spent the day eating cheese and corndogs , afterwards I felt more balanced, more centered, more able to focus on both the non-creative and creative parts of my job. I also wondered why I let it go so long before I went out on a solo adventure. The last time I did the North to West Beach trail at Deception Pass, my companion complained that “beach hiking means we don’t have a goal.” I realized I hadn’t gone hiking alone for nearly a year.
I needed two hours to talk out my manuscript and marketing problem to myself during the drive, then I needed time to hike at my pace which means watch gulls follow a crab boat, bird watching and letting Rosie dig in the sand and letting Tycho roll in some very smelly kelp which ended up having a dead bird in it. Kind of gross, but that’s what after-adventure baths are for.
Anyway I feel better and more like myself again. If anyone is curious, I am sixty pages into the third book in the Other Systems Series. Below are some pictures: I hope you enjoy them. Also if you want to comment, how you get rid of writer’s/creative blocks? Or how do you make sure your needs are met?