For anyone who’s attempted to follow my blogs, you’re aware that I’ve been away from blogging for a while. It’s the book tour. Eats up all my time. That and trying to meet deadline on the next Cork O’Connor novel. But in the meantime, I did compose a blog entry that I think may be of interest, particularly to anyone who’s stuck in their writing at the moment.
I managed during the early part of my tour to spend a week in Lincoln City, on the Oregon coast. And something amazing happened there.
For those of you who aren’t aware of it, I lived most of my high school years in Oregon. I still have some family in Portland, so I come back periodically. But not just for family. Oregon is a beautiful place, and no more so than along its remarkable coastline.
Lincoln City is a resort town. It has all the downsides of that kind of community. Too many shops selling crap, too many cars crowding the single main street (the famous 101, the Pacific Coast Highway), too many signs screaming at you: “Come in here!” “Buy here!” “See the amazing whatever in here!” It proved, however to be a wonderful place to stay.
We rented a house perched high on a cliff overlooking the ocean. The view, as you might imagine, was stunning. We watched whales cavort not three hundred yards from shore. We saw seals in the surf. The sunsets were glorious. At night, you could walk on the silver road the full moon paved across the dark sea.
That was all fabulous, of course. But this was also a working vacation for me. I have a deadline to meet—the next Cork O’Connor book—and things weren’t going well. I’d been stymied over the ending. The book is called Vermilion Drift. It’s the story of a serial killer’s spree in the early 60s that comes back to haunt Cork in the current day. There are dark, grisly secrets that Cork uncovers about his family’s past. It’s a pretty good tale, but I simply couldn’t bring it to a close in a way that satisfied me. I’d been stuck for weeks on that ending.
The house had a hot tub. Every morning after I’d put in my time writing, I shucked my clothes, threw on my suit, and hit the hot tub. Like the house, it sat at the lip of a sheer cliff. And like the view from the house, what I could see from the hot tub was nothing short of remarkable. I sat with all that relaxing, bubbling hot water swirling around my body, and with that incredible sky and ocean and coastline to rest my eyes on. And my mind, oh my mind just opened up. The day before I left Lincoln City, sitting in the hot tub in the morning, the closing for Vermilion Drift descended on me, drifting down like a feather from an angel’s wing. And it was good. It was very good.
I’ve been doing a lot of book events lately to promote my most recent novel, Heaven’s Keep. I’ve been flying or driving long distances, eating badly, getting too little sleep, exhausting myself. And all the time, the next book deadline has been sitting on my shoulders. What I found on this cliff house in Oregon is that there is great value in a vacation. Beyond the obvious—the loosening of knots in both mind and body—currents of creative energy, blocked by the pressures of busy days, begin to flow again and breakthroughs become possible. Weights are lifted. Smiles return. And the future becomes a beautiful thing to contemplate. My wife assures me I could achieve the same sense of peace and purpose with yoga. I don’t do yoga. But vacations I’m pretty good at.