Monday, July 27, 2009

Letting It Be

I met a friend in Vancouver for lunch today and figured it would be a productive writing day. I’d have forty minutes each way on the ferry. There are “Business Work Stations” (a row of study carrels) on board to allow me to plug in the laptop and write. The bus trip to downtown would be slightly longer. For that leg, I packed two writing magazines and a book I’m using to research a historical setting for a new novel.

As I readied to leave the house, I had a feeling my plans might not happen. The sun was blazing and I knew I wouldn’t hit a patch of shade on the walk down to the terminal. I also knew the bus wouldn’t be air conditioned. Lugging around my bulky, outdated laptop was the first idea I nixed.

On the ship, I was a sticky mess. I’ve never been a person who does well in heat. (How I lasted eleven years in Texas is beyond me. Of course, the constant gusts from fully cranked A/Cs helped.) I stepped onto a shaded outside deck, begging the sea breeze to cool me. In no time, I was captivated by the views: sparsely-cottaged islands, the odd log drifting in the water, the mountains in the distance with the last tufts of snow now gone. Postcards at every angle. (My neglected camera remained at home on the kitchen counter.) I stood there and took it all in. No writing. The evolving scene reminded my why I moved to the Sunshine Coast and gave up the daily perks of urban life.

When temperatures pass 30˚ Celsius, you’re never cool for long. The queue to board the bus—seven minutes in that relentless sunshine—got me sweaty again. (So glad I tossed an extra shirt in the backpack to change into for lunch!) The crammed bus didn’t help matters. I gave up my seat, in part to be chivalrous—something most of the comfortably seated men knew nothing about or consciously chose to ignore. Admittedly, I also thought standing might feel better than sticking to vinyl seating.

The opportunity to research was lost. I people watched (and people listened) instead. That fellow with the shorts pulled up too high? He gave me a detail for Nester, a character in an upcoming novel.

Even in Horseshoe Bay for 30-40 minutes while waiting for the return ferry, I passed on going to my favorite café to sit down and write. The trend of being in the moment continued. I got my coffee to go and sat in the park by the water, taking in small details of everyday life: the Basenji who beat out the lab to scarf down a dropped fried fish stick from a distracted child, the father who kept tabs on his developmentally delayed teen son with a leash, the woman idly breastfeeding her infant in the most central (and public) spot in the park, the sea gull digging for any remaining flesh in a mussel shell abandoned by a previous diner.

Sometimes plans push me and make me accountable. Other times they represent noble intentions that need to be strayed from, delayed or, as in this case, abandoned altogether. Still, today was a productive day for writing. I just don’t have anything in my notebook or on my laptop to show for it.

And I’m okay with that.

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