Thursday, February 08, 2007

Vacation Time

My wife cornered me yesterday, demanding that I tell her which week I have available this summer so we could take a family vacation.

We haven't taken a family vacation in four years. Not coincidentally, that was when I landed my first book deal.

My family deserves a vacation. Hell, I deserve a vacation too. But Hyperion hasn't planned the tour yet for DIRTY MARTINI (the release date looks to be the end of June) so I don't know where I'm going to be or what I'm going to be doing this summer.

My wife said that we need to take a week where we can rent a cabin on a lake, go fishing and swimming, and just hang out and relax.

I explained that I'm working my butt off so some day we can buy a cabin on a lake, and go fishing, swimming, and just hang out and relax every day for the rest of our lives. Remember the grasshopper and the ant? Work now, relax later.

My wife reminded me that my son will only be nine once, and we should enjoy him at this age.

I said that I have two distinct memories from being nine years old, neither of them involving my parents.

My wife called me an idiot. I couldn't argue with that.

But we do need a vacation, so I am going to find some time. I still haven't fully recovered from my 500 bookstore tour last summer. Since getting home I've written a screenplay, a novel, eight short stories and articles, attended seventeen events, and visited another 112 bookstores. I need to finish another book this month (which will be my 15th novel) but then I'll have a little bit of free time.

So I'm going to do it. I'm going to go on vacation. I don't want to be planning for a future with my family and find out---when the future arrives---that my family isn't there to share it with me because they got tired of waiting and left.

Am I the only insane workaholic who has this problem?


Stacey Cochran said...

I absolutely need the cabin in the mountains.

I do my best work when I can take three nights off each month, be alone for like 72 hours and do nothing but write. It clears my head, gives me focus, and then I come back home energized.

Unfortunately, I haven't taken 3 nights off per month like this in two years.

If I could, I would go here. It's like four hours from my home in Raleigh.


Anonymous said...

Ouch. You are in the place of my family a few years ago. My husband worked his butt off to get us The House, The Cars and The Vacations. I overheard my nine-year-old tell a friend of mine she only sees her dad two nights a week--usually for a half hour before she goes to bed.

And after so many years of myself and the kids coming in second place to his job I realized I didn't know him anymore. And wasn't interested in knowing him.

So it ended. Not with anger, just two people who were no longer interested in each other. Funny thing three kids see their dad more now that he no longer lives with us.

Anonymous said...

It's good that you're taking the time, Joe. There's nothing wrong with re-charging the batt'ries... especially when it's hard-earned.

Anonymous said...

Take the break, Joe. There's nothing worse than living out the last days of your life on a sickbed thinking that you should've gone fishing that one fine day with the kids.

Your fans don't care about you as much as your family does. We're all just flavor of the month until the next Harry Potter book comes out.

Anonymous said...

Do your family a favor... when you depart for that cabin in the woods, leave your laptop at home.

You'll go thru withdrawal, wondering how many e-mails are piling up in your in-box, but it will be worth it in the long run.

Just remember the old saying: "Vacations are cheaper than a divorce."

Mark Terry said...

I'm an insane workaholic, but I need time away from work. I hope your wife dope-slapped you.

Mark Terry

Anonymous said...

I vacation as often as possible. There's nothing like kicking back in the Italian villa or at the Honolulu beach house. As a matter of fact, I don't think I get to them often enough.

But I understand the compulsion to work. My book just came out and I feel this overwhelming need to MOVE, to get busy, to keep promoting.

And I blame you, Joe. You and your blog and your website. I can't relax because of you.


Anonymous said...

It's a two-edged sword: having the energy, focus, and gumption to produce and succeed usually gets paid for in relationships. Or lack thereof. Or problems therewith. There are many people who aren't interested in stopping to smell the roses (or go fishing at the lake, whatever) -- or else just...can't. I'm lucky: I like to work, and I like to kick back, in almost equal measures. What I pay for that balance is financial non-success.

But I'm confident I won't be lying on my deathbed counting regrets.

When stuck on a course of action, I try to ask myself, "Which will you regret more -- doing XYZ, or not doing XYZ?" This question helps keep priorities clear.

Martha O'Connor said...

I am very glad you are going on vacation, Joe! This sounds like a very healthy thing.

In all seriousness, "workaholism" can be a devastating problem for people. There is more information here for anyone who may find it of interest. xx

Anonymous said...

You wife's right. Listen to her. The kids come first; don't just give them a cabin, give them time. They're only kids once and WILL in fact remember the time spent on them and with them. Be an author, but always be a dad first.

Tasha Alexander said...

Rob Gregory Browne said...

I vacation as often as possible. There's nothing like kicking back in the Italian villa or at the Honolulu beach house.

Ummmm....Italian villa? Honolulu beach house? Where did I go wrong?

Joe, take that vacation!

Spy Scribbler said...

Gosh, yes! Somewhere vacations became the days I get to write all day. Even my one day off during the week is spent writing ten or twelve hours.

It's slowly dawning on me how profoundly unfair this is to DH. He sure deserves an award!

Anonymous said...

JA, with all respect, I think you're brilliant about promotion and you obviously have a sound work ethic, but you're an idiot if you don't take a vacation with your family ASAP. I've done the same thing, kept putting off time with family, and I've lost enough family to know better, to know that "someday" sometimes becomes impossible, because the people you planned that someday something with are simply no longer here.

Do it now. This is a priority. Because without them, what's it all for?

(Advice I need to follow too. Thanks for the reminder.)

Anonymous said...

Joe. Listen to your wife. She's right on this one. When you return from your vacation, the words and the stories will still be there. Meanwhile, don't miss out on life.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and some of my most cherished childhood memories are of vacations taken with my parents and siblings. We hardly had any money, so we just drove and camped a lot. But what memories. It's a wonderful gift to give your kids.

Ed Brenegar said...

Joe, the only thing structured in your life is your work. You are like many of us who think that they can be their best for their family by just being spontaneous. It doesn't work that way. You need to make a commitment that structures time with your son. I did that by taking over the leadership of my sons' scout troop. It was the best, wisest, most productive decision that I have ever made. Seven years later, we are partners in life. It would not have happened if I didn't create a structure that required my commitment and responsibility. If you want to know more email me, and we'll talk. The only way your 15 novels will keep you warm when you are 70 is when you are burning them. That's reality.

Scott Marlowe said...

Life's too short... you know the rest. Enjoy the vacation.

Anonymous said...

Listen to your saintly wife. Take a dang vacation. Or two. Life is more important than writing. And you can't write well unless you live a life beyond publishing - which is about the smartest thing I think I've said in about five months, so I think I'll go write it down somewhere.

Anonymous said...

Nobody ever writes "I wish I had spent more time at work" on their headstone.

My 49 year old sister in law is a sports nut, a runner, watches her diet, doesn't smoke, drinks occasionally and is probably one of the healthiest people I know.
This time last year we (her husband and my wife) went to Vegas and then all through southern California we had a great trip.

Yesterday we placed her in palliative care with advanced breast cancer that metastasized to her bones, now it is sadly only a matter of time.

Live for your family not just a career Joe.

end of sermon

Jon Clinch said...

Family is the ONLY thing that matters.

Trust me on this.

Your son will be in college by next Wednesday, and the moments between now and then will be far beyond recovering.

-- J

WayneThomasBatson said...


You have inspired me and taught me so much about the writing industry and promotion in particular. I am grateful for your efforts and generosity. I am one of MANY who visit your blog all the time seeking a morsel of wisdom.

But, in the end, none of us out here in cyberland, and none of your readers matter one bit when placed on a scale with your wife and family.

There is something terribly addictive about this self promoting thing. And all the affirmation you get from your fans and friends on line…well, it's very affirming. Bathing in the reality of fulfilling a life-long ambition is fun. It feels right.

But if it is at the expense of the relationship with your wife or your son, it all amounds to a steaming hill of fecal matter. Not to put too fine a point on it.

To offer one man's humble perspective. A few years back, I went through a terrible bout with chest pains. I'm talking heart palps, shortness of breath, racing heartbeat, tingling up the arm, vision graying out at the fringes. Several ER visits and many tests, and yet, nothing concrete turned up. Stress, one paramedic suggested. Probably was.

But that's not the message I have for you, Joe. See, one night, I had the worst symptoms. I literally thought I was going to die. We were already on the road when it happened, so my wife drove me to the ER. But on the way there, thinking the next time I blinked, I might never open my eyes again, all I wanted; all I could think about was holding my wife's hand. All I could think about was holding my four kids again. I wasn't thinking about manuscripts and lesson plans.

It's so easy to set up artificial barriers to the things that really matters. "We'll get married when the time is right." "We'll start our family when I get that promotion."

Now is the time, Joe. Get out of dodge. Go somewhere nice. Spend the money on each other. Take your kid fishing by day and kick his tail on the PS3 by night! LOL

Anonymous said...

I thought about you, Joe, today when I was writing a post. I thought, "Hmm, I wonder if he's on vacation, haven't heard from him in a few days." That thought was quickly replaced by an envious one: "I bet he's writing furiously."

Judging by the number of comments here just today, it could be a good PR ploy to go on vacation.

Go create some desire, for us and your wife.

Mary Stella said...

Take the vacation and leave the laptop at home. Every person, not just every writer, needs time off to refill the well. You and your family will be happier and better for the vacation.

Heather Harper said...

A write friend once told me that she had to keep asking her family to leave. Just leave her alone while she was writing. She said they got the message, only they left her for good.

It's only one week. The publishing world will be here when you return. Have a nice vacation with your family.

Heather Harper said...

That would be, "WRITER" friend...

JA Konrath said...

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon...

Keep in mind that---ridiculously long tours notwithstanding---I am a stay-at-home dad. Every day I help my son with his homework, hang out with him (reading, playing, talking), and I recently spoke to his entire school at his behest.

And my wife leaves the house several times a day just to get away from me. :)

I see them a lot, and it's quality time. I'm not neglecting my family. I'm neglecting family vacations.

That said, we're definitely going on vacation this year.

What's a good place to go bass fishing? Any suggestions?

Joe Moore said...

Writing is such a different occupation than most. For me, I’m either writing or thinking about writing. Writers don’t measure the job in terms of days of the week—just let me make it to Friday or one more week and I’m on vacation. A writer’s job is 24/7.

When I go on a trip, I’m always thinking about using the location for a scene or collecting research while I’m there. Vacations don’t seem to have the same meaning for writers as they might with other occupations. But, having said that, the relationships and mental well being with our families should always come before the job—any job.


Jude said...

You sound busy. Take a break. You only live once. After all that writing you need some 'me' time.

Maria said...

Not to worry. While on vacation, some good ideas will come to you--scenes where the bass fish attack your characters...where a fish is left at the scene of the crime...drownings...oh, the possibilities are endless. You won't really be on vacation. It's called subliminal research!

Allison Brennan said...

We're going on our first real vacation in more than 6 years, with all the kids--to Disneyland. This is the only time of the year both my husband and I can get away for more than a weekend, so we're pulling the kids out of school for a couple days and taking five days off. I'll probably have my laptop, but not to write per se, but more for a security blanket ;)

Simon Haynes said...

Your post certainly rings a bell with me. We get away for a week every year, but I do take a laptop with which to check email once a day. (I sell my own software over the internet, and if an order comes in I need to fill it.) That only takes me ten minutes, and I either do it first thing in the morning or last thing at night, so it's not a huge imposition. Anyway, it's the software which pays for the holidays.
While we're away I don't sit and write - I'm there for my family.
Aside from that, I work from home so I'm always here for the wife & kids, whether it's cooking or helping out with something or running off to do the weekly shopping. Every day feels almost like a holiday, although it's nice to have a change of environment.
Actually, I just remember something else. When I was waiting to hear back from my current publisher a few years back my wife finally convinced me to take a holiday. The situation was that the publisher was looking over my first novel and deciding whether to offer a contract. I'd been waiting three months to hear, and we finally took this damned holiday. Booked, packed the car and set off. An hour down the road I got a call on my mobile - it was the publisher asking whether I could meet with their editor to discuss my book?
That was the longest week, and the least-remembered holiday, of my entire life. When we got back I unloaded the car and drove straight to the publishers on the same day ;-)

Aimlesswriter said...

Take the vacation. My kids are 20 and 23 now and time went by too fast. Now one lives miles away and the other is in college with a boyfriend and doesn't even come home that often. Too soon they go off for their own lives and then you will have plenty of time to write. Time is the only thing money can't buy.
Listen to your wife, she's a wise woman.
What I wouldn't give to have that nine year old back in my arms again.

Erica Orloff said...

Somewhere along the way, I think, a change happens. You tell yourself you're working so hard "for" the family--for that mirage up ahead when you'll have nothing to do but BE with them, lying on a beach somewhere, or fishing or whatever. But the writing and the pace becomes the driving force, the adrenaline rush, the whatever. It becomes what drives you. It's all out of proportion. You tell yourself, well, I'm there for homework or whatever, but are you fully engaged (not "you" but anyone who writes full-time from home).

I fell into this trap, and I've spent a lot of time learning to un-do that and really BEING in the moment with my kids, being fully present. The beast of my latest work in progress will always be there. But it's true . . . they will only be (I've got four kids)--16, 11, 9, and 2 once. :-)

Enjoy your vacation!

Karen Olson said...

Joe, go on vacation with your family. I understand how you are with your books, but you could get hit by a truck tomorrow and it'll all be over and you should leave your family with some good memories. My god, if your son is nine and you haven't had vacation in four years, he probably doesn't even REMEMBER what it was like to vacation with you!

And don't take your laptop with you.

Anonymous said...

Just remember the song "Cat's in the Cradle." Enjoy today; we're not promised tomorrow.

ec said...

It won't be long before your kids don't WANT to go on vacation with the old folks. When my younger son was 9, we went to Scotland. I have a wonderful mental image of him standing on the shore of Loch Ness, arms outflung as if to embrace the experience, and exclaiming, "I can't believe we're actually here! I've wanted to come here for my whole life!

Now he's 17, and it's a tough sell to get him to go out to dinner.

I work at home, scheduling writing around the needs of family. They're definitely not neglected. But I still wish we'd taken a few more vacations.

Heather Harper said...

Lake Okeechobee, FL. ;)

Anonymous said...

Joe, you deserve a vaction. Go already!

Regards, Tim Broderick