Juicy Juice!

July 9, 2011 at 12:41 pm (General, Writing) (, , )

No, not the drink box, though now that I’m thinking about it… *craving*

I actually got back from vacation a little over a week ago but immediately went into a straight week and a half of work without any days off. Eep! There was much exhaustion and brain-deadness.

But the vacation was amazing, and exactly what I needed. Funny, really, given that I accomplished far, far less than I expected to while I was up there. But exactly what was needed.

Books read: Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma; Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter; Nightspell by Leah Cypess; Trial By Fire by Jennifer Lynn Barnes; and several old stories/manuscripts of my own (there was a healthy dose of nostalgia there, I admit).

Books I meant to read while I was up there: Shadowcry by Jenna Burtenshaw; Hereafter by Tara Hudson; Hourglass by Myra McEntire; Angel Burn by L.A. Weatherly; Blood Red Road by Moira Young; The Revenant by Sonia Gensler; The Dark City and The Lost Heiress by Catherine Fisher; A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young; and Graveminder by Melissa Marr. Whoops.

Writing done: none, but that’s okay, I wasn’t actually planning on doing any. I finished a solid round of edits at the end of May and needed to let that project sit before I went back through it, and hadn’t decided what project I was going to tackle next. Had some ideas bouncing around but they weren’t settling firmly enough that I could actually start writing anything.

Research done: TONS, and for two separate projects. I went up there with books about animals and a whole list of critters I needed to study. In addition to the books, my sister and I hit up the zoo one day. A ZOO! I’d forgotten how much fun zoos can be. There was a peacock wandering around the grounds. Just…wandering around, strolling, picking up any food the kiddos dropped, and then running like hell away from said kiddos if they showed an interest in tugging his tail. No peahens around, so he wasn’t attacking anyone, but he very obviously considered the park his turf. Were all of the animals ones I needed to know about? Not at all. In fact, most of them weren’t. But those that were I got to see up close and personal. Like seeing the bobcat sprawl out on a branch like a housecat, licking its paws and looking like an only slightly larger version of my enormously fat cat at home. Like the lynx that could barely be seen because it hid beside a tangle of logs, shy and silent. And the otters! Ridiculously cute! Came back with lots of notes on animals, lots of pictures, and lots of jokes.

On that project, what also proved invaluable was just beaing able to sit down with my sister and toss ideas back and forth. That particular project is a rewrite of a trilogy I wrote a few years ago and I’m having some trouble figuring out the ways some things need to change. So my sister and I spun them out. She sees things differently than I do, so when I toss out a possibility, she sees the consequences and ripples differently than I do. By spinning them out, we can dissect whether or not the impact is actually going to fall in line with what I want. There’s still more to do; I know a fair amount of the changes that need to be made, but there are others that are still more nebulous. Until I figure out some of those very basic pieces, I can’t really start writing.

But then…oh, but then, there was Gettysburg.

Which probably requires some explanation.

My dad is a history buff, and he’s always been particularly attracted to the Civil War. I grew up so bored of Civil War talk and I absolutely hated it when he dragged us to battlefields or museums or such not. It got a little better when I got into high school and fell in love with history, got even better when I hit a major Civil War phase near the end of college and started doing independant research for a project that never really got off the ground. I think I just needed to come to it on my own to become equally fascinated by it.

Gettysburg is about two hours from my sister and we have a friend that had semi-recently made a trip there and was telling us about it, so we decided to go. We ended up going twice.

There’s something about Gettysburg that terrifies and fascinates in equal parts. The scope is huge. The battlefield sprawls for miles, literally through the town itself, and as you’re doing the auto tour, you’re passing monuments that are actually in people’s front yards. There are monuments everywhere- EVERYWHERE- which helps give an idea of just how many individual units were involved in this struggle. Many of the officers on both sides of the Civil War served together in the Mexican War, which was the beginning of a turning point in how warfare was conducted. At that point, casualties were still measured in hundreds.

In the Civil War, they were measured in thousands. At Gettsyburg alone, sixty-some-odd thousand over a three day span and its aftermath.

Years ago, that vague project never really left the ground, and I was okay with that. The idea never finished forming. But, as we were going through the auto tour, through town, through the museum and the cyclorama and even the gift shop, that idea was niggling at the back of my mind. We went to dinner at the Old Dobbin House Tavern, we went on a ghost tour, we heard stories from the fringes of the battleground and the terrible, horrific aftermath, and the idea started forming some more. I wrote out some notes, sketched some character ideas, and then it just started running.

So now I’m neck deep in Civil War research and absolutely loving it, looking so forward to being able to start the actual writing. I’ve got a LOT of research to do first. I’ve never given a serious attempt to writing historical fiction; there are reasons for that. But I love this story already and I think it’ll be worth it.

For that alone, it wouldn’t matter if I’d ended up doing NOTHING else productive on my vacation.

The trip wasn’t all about reading and writing, of course. We did SO MUCH, the perfect balance between running around like crazy doing things and sitting on the couch staring mindlessly at the TV. I have a newfound appreciation for Disney Channel shows (LOVE Phineas and Ferb!), as well as Say Yes to the Dress, and Big Fat Gypsy Wedding outright terrifies me. We hit up a theme park, toured some graveyards, the Old Jail at Jim Thorpe where they hung the Molly Maguires (okay, so maybe my historical interests take on a somewhat morbid bent, it’s all still gorgeous), we hung out with friends at a coffeehouse for truly horrible open mic nights, and we spent an entire weekend at an amazing music festival.

It was truly a break from the routine, and now that I’m back, I feel completely recharged. Coming back to work is a bit of a readjustment but I left Florida feeling rather lost as far as where I needed to go next. I had vague ideas, even some solid ideas, on projects but none of them were enough to actually go off of. I don’t think I’ve ever finished a project without knowing what I was tackling next after a break for reading.

And now I’m all juiced up again! I have a to-do list and a stack of books and a nearly as impressive stack of notes already and despite the daunting nature of the tasks ahead of me, I am ridiculously eager.

Vacations can be rough to manage, they can be expensive (oh my GOD THEY CAN BE EXPENSIVE), but they absolutely are absolutely worth it.

And now, being all juiced up again, the blog recommences! Welcome back!

Until next time~
Cheers!

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1 Comment

  1. GladElf said,

    Glad to know you’re back AND recharged! We missed you. Sounds like you had a blast. And is that niggling feeling that I recognized that trilogy your rewriting just me? Or am I having CFA chat flashbacks?
    This gets me excited for my own little vacay that I’m taking in August (but you already knew that). Rachel and i haven’t gotten into the planning what we want to do phase just yet, but it’s going to be fun. We’re going to read, I’m going to attempt to write…she’s going to whip me with a a wet noodle when I don’t write, and I’m going to go see a real castle (well, technically a fort, but it’s closest we have in Florida). Talk about inspiration! Oh yeah, and I’m gonna stop and see an old friend. Cannot wait! =D

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