The Writing Process

What I Did During the Summer Holidays…

… as the first writing composition of the academic year was always entitled, when I was in primary school.

Image credit: Jon Helgason | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Image credit: Jon Helgason | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Well, it took a while, but I’m finally back online. A brand-spanking-new computer with high-speed internet access should keep me firmly plugged into the virtual world for a little time to come, during which I can make a start on clearing the backlog that built up while I was in a technological black hole – emails that need to be answered, blog posts that I’d like to comment on, and all the rest of it.

In truth, my absence from the online world has not been due solely to technological glitches, but also to the fact that I’ve just got back from holiday. I’ve been staying out in the wilds of rural Austria, in a place so remote that there wasn’t even an internet point – just cows and mountains and a thermal spring that seemed to attract vast numbers of German nudists. It was great. I spent hours lounging around in thermal baths and having my back massaged by Austrian frauleins, until Amazon and sales reports and so on seemed like a faint memory of a past life. The hills were indeed alive with the sound of music, mostly in the form of yodelling, lederhosen-wearing folk groups. They were also alive with the sound of furious typing, as I had taken my ancient word processor with me and spent many a long afternoon writing.

Very much haute couture in Austria, you know... Image credit: David Monniaux | Wikimedia Commons
Very much haute couture in Austria, you know… Image credit: David Monniaux | Wikimedia Commons

In writing terms, it’s been a good summer. Not a day has passed when I haven’t managed to bash out at least a couple of thousand words, and though when I read them back I can see that the quality has been variable, it’s refreshing just to have been writing consistently, almost every single day. I can now return to my day job secure in the knowledge that I’ve put my precious free time to good use.

Returning home on Friday night after a long drive back into Italy via the Brenner Pass, I was also delighted to find that during my absence The Quickening had received a favourable review on the excellent Indie Ebook Review site. A little positive feedback can work wonders, and my post-holiday gloom was instantly transformed into glowing cheerfulness. I’d like to thank Cally Phillips, the editor, who has devoted countless unpaid hours to creating and maintaining this excellent site, and to Dennis Hamley for his kind and insightful review.

The Brenner Pass. Image credit: Vladimir Menkov | Wikimedia Commons
The Brenner Pass. Image credit: Vladimir Menkov | Wikimedia Commons

I was also delighted to find that my online friend Thomas Cotterill has just nominated me for the Silver Quill Blogger Award. Thank you so much, Thomas! I’ll post on this in the near future.

All good things must come to an end. The summer is nearly over, and I’m slowly getting back into my business-as-usual mindset. I hope to stop by at all the blogs and resume the online friendships that I have of necessity been neglecting during the past month or so, and just catch up with the online world in general. I hope the summer’s been as good to you, my friends, as it has been to me. In writing terms at least, 2012 is turning out to be a vintage year.

8 thoughts on “What I Did During the Summer Holidays…

  1. Welcome back, Mari! It’s wonderful to see you posting again. For a while there, I thought you had taken up the sixties hippie-chick thing and gone completely AWOL. I pictured you wearing granny gowns while growing organic zucchinis and herding goats. And all the while, there you were living in the lap of rustic alpine luxury!

  2. Thank you, Thomas! I was actually tempted to go AWOL, once and for all – and I’ve got to say, the granny gowns were amazingly comfortable. I’m keeping them, come what may.

    Thanks again for the nomination!

    1. Happy to nominate you, Mari. You’re quite welcome. But I’m curious. When you say you were tempted to go AWOL, do you mean from the information superhighway or from what my generation calls “the rat race?” I grew up in the sixties and “escaping” to a simpler way of life was very much in vogue in those days. Such ideas stay with you. At midlife (crisis), I chucked my marriage and a lucrative computer-consulting job to go live in a shack on the edge of a 10,000-acre tree farm. I spent 16 years there surrounded by fir trees, deer, cougars, and black bears. Do such outlandish notions tempt you?

      1. A bit of both actually – I find that I do crave time away from the internet, but the idea of escaping from the rat race appeals too. Such outlandish notions definitely tempt me – I have to say that a lonely shack surrounded by trees and wildlife sounds pretty good to me!

        Have you ever considered writing a novel based on this experience? I’d say it has definite possibilities…

  3. Your vacation sounds relaxing, and I’m glad you got time away from the internet and the pressures of connected life. I’m equally glad you chose to come back. I enjoy your blog!

    We don’t have many nudists in the US of A. Although, there is a nude beach less than five miles from my house. I found it by accident, with a friend who has never lived in Europe and who was quite scandalized by the entire thing!

    Congratulations on writing every day! I did that the first three months of the year, and got the very (very!) rough draft of two books in my series done. Like you, I found the quality varied. But the act of writing daily is powerful for keeping the story line fresh in your mind, and for just learning how to sit and write, no matter what.

    Welcome back,


    1. Thank you, Aniko! I agree that the simple act of writing consistently is very important, however varied the quality. I’m also glad to hear that you made such excellent progress on your series. I can’t wait to read it!

      It seems to be the Germans who are the biggest nudists in Europe, perhaps because the German law actually permits nudity in public places, or so I understand. Here in Italy it seems relatively rare, and of course the British are much too prudish to go strutting around in the altogether, so it was something of a culture shock for me too!

      1. I don’t have any problem with nudists, but I get cold when it’s 90 degrees (Fahrenheit)! I need my clothes. Sometimes, I need absurd layers of clothing, and at work I have a quilt that hangs over the back of my chair and I occasionally have to resort to wrapping up in it. In the summer. In Texas. Not much German in me, I guess! 🙂

  4. The idea of living “the free life” appealed to me as well, Mari, but it didn’t work out the way I thought it would. My midlife crisis proved to be the early stages of a complete breakdown. When I became clinically depressed and sought help, I discovered I was bipolar. For several years I struggled through what Jung called the individuation process. Along the way, I began to write. I draw on the experience frequently in my writing, but rather than the actual simple lifestyle, I focus on all the things I learned about psychology, life, and myself.

    Let me add that I was not living in a remote (by Canadian standards!) area. In British Columbia, the wilderness is never far away. My humble abode was on the slopes of Red Mountain (a foothill really), a twenty minute drive from downtown Mission (pop. 25,000 at the time), yet to the north and west of me lay hundreds of miles of uninhabited mountain ranges cloaked in temperate rain forest. These are protected inside vast Provincial Parks: Golden Ears, Garibaldi (named for the Italian hero), and Pinecone Burke. The town’s tree farm – used to alleviate taxes – sprawled immediately to the east.

    The wildlife was remarkable. Deer grazing wild clover outside my back door. Bears lumbering into the undergrowth when I visited the spring for fresh water. A huge cougar staring through the open bedroom window at my startled neighbours farther along the steep narrow road. Squirrels sneaking indoors to raid the pantry when you weren’t looking. Frogs by the hundreds croaking in a swampy hollow farther up the slope, sometimes so loud they made sleep difficult! Owls hooting softly in the night. More than once, beasts I could hear but not see stalked me in the dark.

    Sixteen stormy yet remarkable years.

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