The pause that refreshes

It’s true: I’ve been missing in action for some time. The past few months have been my equivalent of an embryonic diapause. This is a mechanism where certain mammals do not reproduce when the environment is not right for nurturing young. Embryos remain in a state of dormancy until conditions are right for reproduction. In 2016 my dormant young were my YA and contemporary stories.

I’ve been writing in a different genre, under a different name. But that’s another story for another day.

A couple of things stirred my interest in disaster scenarios again. One trigger was listening to this chilling podcast from CBC. It dramatizes an earthquake event in the Pacific Northwest. Add to that the new earthquake threat, identified as the Devil’s Mountain fault. Suddenly interest in prepping was alive again. Do you want to read a fictional account of an earthquake hitting Vancouver and surrounds? Look for my book Lockdown.

What about you? Are you ready for a disaster? Is your grab-and-go bag packed? Have you stockpiled food yet? If you’re unsure how to do any of that, there is a world of reference material out there to help you. One place to start your emergency preparations is with the Geek Prepper site. Here’s their recommendation as to how to build your food resources – 35 Survival Foods. Or click on the picture to get to their site.

In the meantime, I’m going back to my story in the mountains where a trio of teenagers are dealing with a disaster of great magnitude. Someone has prepped for this event but will they share their emergency supplies?

What happened to summer?

Back in June, I decided to give my blog a short rest after almost five years of regular posting.

 

Back lane in Oak Bay June 2016

Back lane in Oak Bay June 2016

When I opened my blog notebook this week, I discovered the last notes were scribbled in the first flush of June heat. I’d donned a swishy sundress and a floppy hat for the first time in the season and set off for a walk. The notes I made on that stroll probably made a lot of sense when I wrote them.

Garry oak leaves and acorns July 2016

Garry oak leaves and acorns July 2016

Way led onto way, to paraphrase Robert Frost. Countless hours were spent at the beach, walking the breakwater, hiking the forests and enjoying the gorgeous homes and gardens of my neighbourhood. I’ve been writing fiction too (that’s another subject for another day) but my blog has been idle.

Apples August 2016

Apples August 2016

"Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets," says Tim Kreider in his article The Busy Trap.

Now the blog vacation is over and it’s time to get back to work. What did you do on your summer break?

One of the lovely houses in my neighbourhood. August 2016  

One of the lovely houses in my neighbourhood. August 2016

 

Oak Bay beach Victoria BC (a short walk from my home)

Oak Bay beach Victoria BC (a short walk from my home)

Does absence make the writing stronger?

A couple of weekends ago, we returned to our tiny place on Salt Spring Island (SSI). We hadn’t visited for eight months, because of the extended trip to Australia. What happened in our absence?

  • Spiders moved in, about 4,126 of them. They festooned the rooms with sticky webs and left their pencil-dot droppings under their favourite spots.

  • Weeds choked the front walk.

  • I forgot how the oven worked.

  • When the internet service restarted, the server no longer recognized our modem and vice versa.

  • Our neighbour’s dog forgot who we were and approached us warily.

Neglect was a show stopper as I found when I went to work:

  • My writing had become became slow and ponderous, as though trapped by spider silk.

  • Adverbs threatened to choke the narrative.

  • The discipline of daily writing had weakened.

  • I’d lost touch with some of my characters. Worse still I wasn’t using Scrivener or even a basic spreadsheet to track them. What colour were the protagonist’s eyes?

On the other side of that coin, taking a break delivered these parallel benefits:

  • We discovered we were hanging on to a lot of things we didn’t use. A big clean up ensued and a carload of gently used household items went to the local thrift shop.

  • My prose was thick with extraneous scenes and description. I was able to edit ruthlessly.

  • Coming back to a favourite place after a long absence, refreshed my love of SSI.

  • When I looked at work I hadn’t seen for months, I found quality writing that can be improved and sharpened for publication.

Have you ever stepped away from a place or project for an extended length of time? Was it a happy reunion when you came back?