This Yours Truly in the new "Coolibar" sunhat. Wide-brimmed. SPF 50. Chin strap for winds . . . whether they come when standing at a highly polished ship rail far out at sea, or while kayaking a peaceful lagoon at Half Moon Cay. Protects my head from sunburn. (Flashback to very unattractive peeling stripes where my hair parts--too many times to count). And prevents my freckles from completely coalescing--in the past, my only way of "tanning." I'm too health conscious to do that now; tans come in spray booths, bottles and lotions these days, thank heaven. And besides, we're not going on this cruise to get a tan; we're going in order to enjoy the blessings of a change of scenery, the company of good friends, and to simply get away.
Which will happen, absolutely . . . for my husband. For 11 days he'll be away from volunteer obligations, lawn and pool duty, the burden of having a house up for sale, and cleaning up after his cooking-crazed wife. He'll take a less enjoyable break from TV football (unless it's changed, at sea programming only offers soccer), and practicing his guitar.
But do writers every really take a break from writing? Hmmm. . . Not unless we leave our brains at home! I mean, sure, physically we do. We can walk away from the office, the laptop, can set paper and pencils aside. We can close the "How To" writing books. And I'll be doing that, welcoming a break after writing three books in the Mercy Hospital Series. It will be a celebration of having accomplished what I set out to do. But my writer's brain won't be cajoled by blue water, palm trees, or the steel drums of a reggae band. It will be working. Whispering bits of dialogue, prodding--plotting a new book. Ask any writer. The process continues most waking hours and, for some, even during sleep. Everything we see, hear, touch, smell, and experience begs--like a small child tugging the hem of his parent's coat-- to be translated into words. It's hard to ignore.
We sit in an airport and study people, wonder what motivates them, what worries them, where they find comfort, joy. We hear short snippets of conversation (okay, we eavesdrop!) and mentally fill in the blanks, create scenes . . . take it forward on the wheels of "what if?"
The beauty of it, of course, is that this process is a secret thing. No one has to know. A writer can look like anyone else in the crowd, while scenes are playing out in their heads.
Even on a lagoon in Half Moon Cay.
At the Panama Canal.
In the jungles of Costa Rica.
Under a nifty new Coolibar sunhat.
Which of course, does not answer the real question: How does a man manage to travel with only 3 pair of shoes?