Where do you run to?

Is it safe to come out now? Has the planet stopped burning and flooding? Are the world leaders finally addressing the issues of climate change?

Ha. As if.

For the past two and a half years, I’ve buried myself in the fantasy world of romance writing. My reason is simple: reality keeps bringing me down. Embracing the genre of happily-ever-after endings allows me to mould the world to a kinder, more generous place.

In the meantime, I’m still reading a wide range of fiction. My most recent bedside book is Fahrenheit 451. Written in 1953, Ray Bradbury’s dystopian story is about a ruthless totalitarian state. It depicts a government that attempts to destroy knowledge by censoring and burning books. The harsh regime demands unquestioning loyalty to its version of the truth. Sound familiar?

Lately, powerful bullies, funded by a war chest of taxpayer dollars, have combined resources to try to force through a massive building project on our quiet, residential street. Sometimes a person can only ignore abuses of power for so long.

I’ve come out of my burrow now, ready to fight. Perhaps if I can make a difference in this one small corner of the globe I will take this energy to bigger battles.

In my writing life, I will continue with my romantic fantasies a while longer. It’s important to have an escape, a safe place where fairy tales come true and human decency abounds.

What is your escape? Where do you go when things overwhelm you?

Photos from Pexel.

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?