Cruising Versus Working

The problem with being a one-woman business is that although you can GO on vacation, you can’t necessarily BE on vacation.  I’m sitting here in our suite on a ship docked in the harbor at Palermo, Sicily.  It’s sunny out.  Next door to us a work crew is using a welding torch to dismantle a metal band around what appears to be a group grain elevators. They’re doing hot, heavy physical labor.  What am I doing?  I’m writing my blog because, although I’m on vacation, my readers are not, and Friday morning is coming.

Last Friday afternoon, the manuscript for Field of Bones, Joanna Brady #18, went to my editor in New York. It was supposed to be done before we left on the cruise, but it was finished shortly thereafter.  Whoo-hoo!  Thank God, and the Internet, it’s gone!

So this week we did some cruise oriented outings.  In Tuscany, we went on the Bocelli Wine Tasting.  We walked off the ship and I started to climb on board a bus that was already quite full.  “Oh, no,” I was told, “you’re not on this bus.”  In fact, we weren’t on a bus at all.  We were directed to a Mercedes mini-van where, other than our guide and the driver, we were the only passengers.   We drove along a rocky cliff lined shore, through fields strewn with poppies, and down ever-narrowing winding roads until we reached the home of Andrea Bocelli.  Yes, that, Andrea Bocelli—the one who’s coming to Seattle on June 24.  It turned out that our driver is his personal driver.  We got to walk down into the outdoor concert area where the Red Hot Chili Peppers will be playing later this year.  We got to walk around in the Bocelli vineyards where our guide, a sommelier in her other life, pointed out how the vines must be trimmed by hand in order to make sure the plant’s full effort is devoted to only one bunch of grapes and how each plant produces a single bottle of wine.  We drove past Andrea Bocelli’s home, saw his horse, and then went to lunch at a restaurant in what had once been his parent’s home and where both our wine tasting and our luncheon were hosted by Andrea Bocelli’s nephew.  The whole day was MAGIC!  The wine was glorious.  The food even better.

The next day we had signed up for Tuscan Wine Tasting, Take 2.  That day we were on a bus where the leg room was so tight that I had to take my long legs and go to the back of the bus.  I was sitting in the back minding my own business, when the bus driver slowed for a speed bump and then accelerated away before the back axle cleared the bump.  I believe we’ve all seen the America’s Funniest Video Segments where someone jumps onto a air-filled diving platform and sends the unfortunate victims sitting there first sky high and then into the drink.  People in the middle of the bus bounced up high enough that their heads hit the ceiling.  I did that, too, but when I came down, instead of landing on the seat, I landed on the floor before bouncing again onto a lower level of the floor.  I was not hurt—at least I didn’t think I was hurt—so much as I was embarrassed.  And I used my seat belt from then on, right?  But it turns out I was hurt.  Although there were no bruises showing, there were bruises, and I’ve been sitting on pillows.  I’m sitting on one right now, but I’m pretty much recovered.

Yesterday we were scheduled to go to Herculaneum.  It’s the place down hill from Pompeii where all the people trying to escape the volcano went in hope of catching boats and mostly didn’t—escape that is.  We had visited Pompeii years ago.  My father, Norman, always had a keen interest in ancient civilizations, and in his memory, we had planned to do Herculaneum this time around.  Two days earlier we made the joint decision that it was probably a more physically demanding tour than we wanted to take, so we cancelled that shore excursion.  Since it rained like crazy that day, being on the ship as opposed to being on slippery sloped hills was probably a very good idea.  But it turns out it was a good decision for another reason as well.

The evening before what would have been our Herculaneum day, my editor let me know that Costco has requested some “special” material to be bound into the books they will be selling.  So I spent our non-Herculaneum day writing a 3500 word essay about one of the things that sparked my career as a writer.

And then my editor produced another request.  Could I PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE write a novella.  So I’m writing a novella.   Yesterday I thought about it and finally managed to come up with 1600 words that Bill loved.  Today, when I finish writing the blog, I’ll go back to writing the novella.

But don’t shed too many tears for me about having to work on my vacation.  I always wanted to be a writer, and it’s one of the great joys of my life that I get to BE a writer.  And once I’m working and the words are actually flowing?  It doesn’t even feel like work.

It’s who I am and what I do, on the road or off it.

And I have a feeling my readers wouldn’t want it any other way.