Thursday, August 19, 2010

My Cup Runneth Over A.K.A. “How I Spent My Summer Vacation”

When I attended an SCBWI event with Deborah Brodie, she talked about how writers needed to take a sabbatical from writing. She and Sarah Davies both emphasized the importance of living life to help feed your writing.
So I took their advice.

We went on vacation for 9 days. I unplugged for those 9 days. I took a cell phone, but used it rarely. I checked no e-mails, read no blogs, and only wrote because a character’s voice in my head wouldn’t leave me alone. When she’d kept me up for 2 nights, I finally gave in, wrote everything about her I knew so I could remember. I can’t write her story now, but I have some nuggets saved for after my current book is done.

We did a plethora of things. My husband likened it to a scavenger hunt. You know, the kind where you reach a destination, hop out, get what you needed, then hop back in the car and on to the next destination. I found it relaxing and it fed my writer’s mind. Here’s a few trip highlights and how they fed the writer within.

1. Thomas Edison’s Laboratory, West Orange, NJ: This man was amazing. He had a huge laboratory and was a pioneer in so many ways. This is a picture of a fraction of his library that reminded me a bit of the one in the UVA Rotunda. I was in awe of the amount of trials and failures it took for him to invent and improve so many technologies.

2. Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor: This was my second trip to see Lady Liberty, but I took away new things this time. The first time I saw her, I was on my honeymoon. This time I was introducing her to my daughter. Bartholdi, Liberty’s designer, wanted to have her ready in time for the 100th anniversary of our country, but he was 10 years late. It didn’t stop him. He kept pursuing the dream. And then there were the thousands of people who laid eyes on Lady Liberty before coming to Ellis Island. Each one of them has their own story.

3. Plymouth, Massachusetts: Since my daughter learned about the Pilgrims and the Mayflower in kindergarten this year, we thought we’d take her to the historic site. I learned so many things and dispelled many misconceptions I had. There are always many sides to every story. It made me want to make sure I consider all angles before telling my story.

4. Whale Watching and People Watching Cape Cod, MA: Whales are beautiful creatures. I got see a dozen or so in all of their glory. These pictures just don't do them justice. I was also on a boat for four hours which gave ample opportunity to watch people. People are sometimes as fascinating as animals.

5. The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art Amherst, MA: This place is a children’s book lover’s dream come true. I only wished I could have stayed longer. My kids were done in far too short of a time. Next time I will go alone. Plan to spend several hundred dollars in their bookstore—also a children’s book lover and scholar’s dream. Truly. If only I were an artist too...

6. Dr. Seuss Sculpture Garden Springfield, MA: To have your characters immortalized into sculptures? Well, that in and of itself is inspiring. They also had some fabulous museums around these garden. I sat on the mosaic bench and took it all in.

6. Norman Rockwell Museum Stockbridge, MA: (No Pictures except for one with all of my family in it. We were rushed because we got there 40 min. before it closed). Wow! An unplanned stop, but well worth it. The paintings are even more beautiful in person. And a bonus William Steig exhibit was there too. Jeanne Steig did some whimsical sculptures when she was having writer’s block because she had to keep her hands busy doing something. They were also on display. We also got to see Rockwell’s studio.

7. Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, NY: Another unplanned stop, but truly amazing. I love baseball (the only sport I watch). So many players with big dreams, who reached their goals. It was also inspiring to learn more about the players who faced much discrimination just to pursue their passion.

What did I do on my summer vacation? I left the "work" at home, and filled up my writer's cup.


Belle said...

What a fantastic vacation. You live near so many interesting historical sites. I have seen quite a lot of the west coast of the United States, but only Florida on the east coast.

I've seen the whales off Vancouver Island and it was wonderful. I would love to see Plymouth and New York.

M.F. Atkins said...

Hi Belle,
Thanks! Actually we live pretty far from most of these places. We live in Virginia, so we drove for a long time (with two little kids) to get to these places. :) It was worth it though. I would love to go to the West Coast and spend a lot of time touring around. When the kids are a little older....

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Life is full with great things!

Amy Tate said...

My goodness, I wish I could have been your luggage carrier! It looks fantastic, Marcie! I could spend an entire day at the picture book museum! Thanks for posting about it and have a fabulous week!

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