The Big July 4th Staycation

by | Jul 11, 2022 | Articles | 0 comments

“A writer never has a vacation. For a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.”

—Eugene Ionesco

 

I’ll admit it: last week’s blog post was pretty much non-existent.

All I posted was a flag picture and a headline, “Happy birthday, Americans.”

I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of inside jokes and comments in my head. That headline was one of them. 

I’m an American, so it might seem a little off for me to post a headline worded in such a way. 

It actually came from the July 4th, 2001 Wilco show, a mere two months before 9/11. Frontman Jeff Tweedy opened the show with two songs from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” and “War on War.” He then greeted the crowd in his inimitable, laconic midwestern accent, “Happy birthday…Americans. Feel good about yourselves?”

That intro always haunted me, especially since so much of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot would come to feel prescient about 9/11, and the feeling that the chickens had come home to roost (from the Middle East, it turned out, but it could have been Chile, Guatemala…). In more recent years, I’ve also become ever more painfully aware of how so many of my fellow Americans have never felt like there was anything to celebrate—particularly people of color.

 

It’s Been A Long, Long Time

But I didn’t think much beyond the headline itself last week. And the reason I didn’t create a real post along with it is simple enough. My wife and I haven’t had an actual vacation since 2017, and I decided to take four consecutive days off, from July 1st through the 4th.

If memory serves, we had tentatively planned to take some time off in 2020. You probably remember how 2020 turned out.

So much of the last couple years has been incredibly difficult. I can’t complain, because we’ve all survived, and even my 80-something parents have made it through the worst of the pandemic, fully vaxxed and boosted. Earlier this year, we had a bit of a scare when my wife’s entire family seemingly got COVID around the same time. But they all made it through, too, no worse for wear and tear, as Mick Jagger might put it.

 

As for Ionesco…

My lovely wife was actually thinking of working on Saturday the 2nd. The way things have gone since 2020, I totally get why she wants to pick up all the overtime she can, but I talked her out of it. While I had a four-day weekend, she at least got a three-day weekend. Not enough to recover from burnout, but enough to recharge for the short week that followed, from the 5th through the 8th.

If you’re expecting an exciting report, though, I hate to give you the news. The big July 4th staycation consisted mostly of five activities:

  • Grocery shopping
  • Cooking
  • Cleaning 
  • Exercising
  • Resting

I know, pathetic, right? But as for Eugene Ionesco’s quote, I’ve got to call B.S. I didn’t think about writing for four solid days, and it helped me out the rest of last week, and into this week, too. Since the holiday, I’ve cranked out about 5K words of material, not including this post. For now, that’s going to have to be enough.

relax

Five Ways to Relax During Quarantine

​I thought a good blog post this week would be on how to unwind—not just during our current era of quarantine and “social distancing,” but on any day off. What my wife calls a holiday. That could be any time, right? I’ve been running so hard lately, I've barely had...
serial

If You Don’t Write in a Serial Format, Good Luck With Amazon Classifications

This week’s topic is one near and dear to my grizzled, cynical old heart—adjusting to the nightmarish landscape of book classifications. Some writers have no problem with this stuff, and hey, more power to you. But as I wrote in What I’ve Learned In Six Years of...
syzygy

From The Shadow Side to the Syzygy

Anima rising, Queen of queens Wash my guilt of Eden Wash and balance me - Joni Mitchell, Don’t Interrupt the Sorrow   I’ve always enjoyed learning new words—or, as is more likely at my age, relearning words I’ve forgotten—so I was pleased to put syzygy in the...
Whizzers

The Glories of Language: Making Stuff Up and Other Fun Things I Do

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” - Pablo Picasso   One thing I was never especially afraid of was breaking the rules. What I was afraid of was getting caught. When I was young, I got into a tiny bit of trouble, but not much....
rewriting

New “Writer Problems” Series, Topic #6: How Much Rewriting is Too Much?

Today's blog post was supposed to be an expansive one, delving in the subject of rewriting. In my own case, I spent years obsessively returning to manuscripts, revising them again and again until they were—as far as I could tell—perfect. As perfect as I could make...

Vaccine Follies: How My Second Shot Got Delayed and Why I Freaked Out A Little

Most of my blog posts are related to books and marketing, as you probably know if you’re here. But periodically this blog serves the purpose of a journal, and I write about what’s on my mind—and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been a lot. The virus, the...
robot

More Thoughts On Robot Writers and The Tech Dystopia

A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog post here called When Will the Robot Overlords Replace Us? Apparently, I’m fairly obsessed with this stuff, because every time I come here and empty my brain, it seems to come up again. Today is no different. Part of the reason,...
can we talk

Can We Talk?

I don't know how many of my blog readers are familiar with Joan Rivers—possibly not that many—but there was a time when the catchphrase Can we talk? was known to just about every adult in America. Joan may be gone, but it seems like people are talking more than ever....
launch team

Turning a Street Team Into a Launch Team

If you're reading this blog post in April or May of 2019, you probably already know that my fourth novel, Whizzers, will come out later this year. I'm working on launch ideas of all sorts, and the launch itself is likely going to be late July. For the uninitiated,...
mask

COVID-19, Discipline, and an Uncomfortable Freedom

Last week, my wife and I did something we hadn’t done since March of 2020: we walked into a supermarket without wearing masks. This might not seem radical, but a word of explanation is in order here. My mother, who turns 86 this coming May, lives up the road from us...
self-promotion

What’s The Problem With Shameless Self-Promotion?

While I still find it somewhat hard to believe, I've been on Twitter for almost eight years. I know this not only because Twitter shows Joined March 2015 on my profile but also because, even if they eliminate that feature, I use a tracker called Who Unfollowed Me? If...
MLK

MLK Day 2023

Here’s wishing everyone a safe, sane Martin Luther King Jr. Day. For many of us, today is always something of a day of mourning: not only mourning the loss of a great civil rights leader, but also mourning the turn our great nation seemed to take in recent years....

Twitter Tips for Authors in 2023

If you follow my blog, you probably connected with me via Twitter, whether you’re a fellow author or not. In 2020, I wrote a post about Twitter for fellow writers that got a good response. Three years later, the landscape has changed, but some Twitter best practices...
rails

Going Off The Rails (But Not On A Crazy Train)

Last April, I wrote a blog post called Back on Track With a Work-In-Progress. Part of that post was to talk about the difference between a “plotter” and a “pantser” (and to describe myself as a hybrid of the two, a “plantser”). Another, less obvious motive, was to...
French

Those Tricky French Authors and Their Obsessions

Today’s blog post was originally going to be Write Whatever the @#$% You Want, Pt. III. However, after seeing parts I and II lined up, I decided to call an audible and make it something less repetitive. Somehow the SEO gods have gotten into my head. As I’ve mentioned...
scared

Write Whatever the @#$% You Want, Pt. II

In last week’s post, I mentioned a pretty well-known author who has publicly reported his publisher “wouldn’t touch” a new release, in part because a character in his novel referred to herself as “fat.” I heard this story on a podcast, and I remember thinking, “Wait...
censorship

Write Whatever the @#$% You Want

I’ve been stewing on this for a while. It’s been brewing for quite a while. I could probably write a song about it (how about a rap?), but I don’t think I will. This is more of a blog post topic, and it might even deserve a series. And that’s the title and topic of...
gratitude

Should Every Month Be Gratitude Month?

When I was a kid, I loved Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz. I read it daily and collected nearly every paperback volume of the cartoon, so I could see what I’d missed since the comic strip’s inception in 1950.  Certain things stuck: quotes like “happiness is a warm puppy”...
robot

More Thoughts On Robot Writers and The Tech Dystopia

A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog post here called When Will the Robot Overlords Replace Us? Apparently, I’m fairly obsessed with this stuff, because every time I come here and empty my brain, it seems to come up again. Today is no different. Part of the reason,...