|The view from the drying room window in Tuscany.|
But Italy was for vacation. With my husband. I had every intention of setting aside to write everyday; instead, I walked for miles on ancient streets (an average of over ten miles a day), ate gelato every afternoon, and spent nearly every waking minute (and the sleeping ones, too) with my husband of almost twenty-five years.
I wish I could be like Nora Roberts who is rumored to write several thousand words, even on vacation. Some day, maybe vacations will be so commonplace that I can do that, but this was my long delayed honeymoon with my husband and our first big trip together, so I told myself that the trip was for gathering in. I thought it was Jane Yolen who I first read talking about gathering in, but I can't find the essay now to share with you. Instead, I'll give you my understanding of it.
Gathering in is that time for a writer when they aren't actually writing but are experiencing the world, gathering in images, sensory data, information, emotions, conversations, and experiences that will someday inform their writing. Frequently, I'll use my phone to capture things as photos, sounds, or texts. Sometimes, I'll make notes in my daybook or journal. Sometimes, I'll just soak in the world, let it wash over me and leave me new.
In Italy, I did all of these things. I have new ideas for picture books, for poems, and for a mid-grade or adult novel. I've got more ideas for my Christine book. I saw the Alps from the area in Italy Christine likely crossed over to France. I saw medieval bridges that still contained the shops that were there in Christine's time but are no longer present on the bridges that link Paris and the Ile de France.
Now, I'm back at work in Africa for a two-week class, and I'm enjoying my time alone. I don't have to clean my room or cook dinner, so there's plenty of time to work and write, and now, that gathering in has left me bubbly with words waiting for a page. Including these. Keep an eye out for some of the photos I took in Italy, some with writing prompts, that I'll be posting over the next few weeks.
And enjoy your time writing and your time gathering in.