When you’re sorta on vacation…and sorta not

So, I’ve got a couple kids home with me this week, and two more will be home starting next week. I’ve been spending a lot of time with them doing all sorts of fun stuff — hiking, museum-hopping, long walks — and it’s nice to be doing things other than gazing into my computer screen.

Just when I’d cut back on my writing, the war in Israel started, and my brain’s been feeling a little overloaded by all the bad news. I kept feeling horrified by all the reports, and yet unable to pull myself away from a screen.

Everything in my head feels jumbled up at the moment. Writing has gotten hard for me lately in a way I’m not used to. I’m having problems getting the words to flow. It’s like my brain needs to detox.

This week, I’ve had to leave the computer behind for long stretches, and it will remain that way until September. The only work I will be doing is the most essential, mainly writing episodes of my serial and preparing rewrites requested by editors for already accepted pieces. I’m hoping the little break will help me snap back to normal.

When school resumes in the fall, I’m expecting to work almost full-time, writing. It will be the first time I work full-time at anything other than being a wife and mom since my first child was born. I feel like I need to rest in the coming weeks before this new phase of my life starts.

I’m hoping to spend a lot of time in the great outdoors, getting exercise, absorbing smells and scenery and sounds. I’m hoping to enjoy my family, just enjoy them, their company and special-ness. It’s like my creativity needs fuel, and the tank needs to be topped off.

I wish I could stop writing altogether for the rest of the summer, but with the serial looming over me, that’s going to be impossible. So, this vacation isn’t really a vacation. But at least it’s something.


What I’m doing for my summer vacation

You might have noticed that I haven’t posted much lately. I’ve got all my kids home with me this summer, and instead of writing blog posts, I’ve been busy staycation-ing with the Kooky Klempners.

I’ve squeezed in a quite bit of writing this summer, but not on this blog.

To help other family camping/mommy camping/staycationing families in the L.A. area, I created a website last summer. This year, I made a lot of improvements over there, as well as posting regularly about various adventures I’ve had with my family. You can check the site out here. I’m quite proud of this project: I’ve helped lots of families, and I think it came out pretty spiffy for a website done on the cheap.

You can expect fewer posts until the kids return to school in the fall. Try to contain your disappointment. 😉

How to get back into the swing of things after taking a vacation from writing

Checklist on clipboard
I took some time off from posting to concentrate on Passover preparations…and then another couple weeks off recovering. My brain was so focused on errands and checklists, and my body was so exhausted from scrubbing, that I pretty much couldn’t write at the end of the day, not anything coherent anyway. I had several manuscripts under review by editors, so I thought it would be best just to step back a bit from cranking out stories and submitting them.

It was strangely relaxing to stop writing. While I love to write, things were getting jumbled in my head, ideas tangled up, and I was losing focus. I’ve always been a person whose problem is too many ideas, not too few. But it was getting to the point that sitting down to write was like opening up the doors to one of those closets where people just keep shoving things in wherever they fit, and you’re left fumbling for your navy pumps in a mess of fluffy pink sweaters, old luggage, and forgotten handbags that really ought to be sent to Goodwill. Where to start?

Plus, my writing was feeling less joyful. When writing becomes your job, and you expect yourself to produce something (hopefully brilliant) every day, it can become a chore instead of a pleasure. When most of your writing is done at the end of a long day of homemaking, it just turns into one more thing to check off your to-do list. A succession of rejection letters hadn’t helped the situation.

During Passover, I found extra time to lavish on my husband and children, without worrying that I was being a slacker or would miss a deadline (even a self-imposed one). Since most of the publishers I deal with are Jewish ones, I figured they’d all be out of the office, too.

However, my vacation had to come to an end some time. I belong to a critique group, and with a meeting coming up, I had to get back to writing. I forced myself to sit at the computer. My first couple attempts didn’t go anywhere, and I felt a bit demoralized. Thankfully, some wonderful helpers were sent to me from Shamayim (Heaven). Totally unsolicited, two friends told me that they like my writing. One particularly focused on my quirky way of looking at things in a way that’s humorous but true. This made me reconsider what I had been attempting to write.

I think that one of the problems with my recent attempts of writing was that I was trying to write what other people have successfully sold, as opposed to staying true to my own voice. Half-submerged anxiety about pieces that hadn’t sold because they didn’t “fit in” with publisher’s expectations must have led me down the wrong path, and a little reflection set me straight. I ditched the stuff that wasn’t really “me,” and returned to my uniquely wacky and off-beat voice. The ideas are beginning to flow and I’m feeling more optimistic.

The Providential arrival of a complimentary email from an editor contributed to the general upswing, too. If this particular editor loved my piece, I must be good!