Working Vacations

As one of those people who has limited time to work on my personal projects, taking a working vacation has become a regular occurrence year after year. For me, this means taking my camera and laptop along on my trips so I can work on two of my hobbies at once, photography and writing. This year will be no different.

Building Dreams

We had another beautiful weekend in western Pennsylvania, and my family and I took the time to attend another history/craft festival. Unlike some of the other festivals we visit, Penn's Colony festival has multiple, small shacks which hold individual vendors in between the typical canvas tents commonly seen at other regional craft shows. These shacks range between 100 and 200 square feet of floor space and will have either shelves or hooks for displaying crafters' goods. Some of the larger shacks host food vendors as well. They're built of rough-cut boards nailed together vertically in the traditional American barn-style and are tall enough to hold a loft under their A-frame roofs.

Writing in a Vacuum

Friday I participated in an educators' workshop hosted by a center at which I interned during my college years. While the topics and presentations given were familiar to me, seeing them again after so many years helped me to recognize teaching techniques missing from my own lesson plans and has inspired me to dig deeper into topics I would like to add to my class repertoire. I now plan to revamp my educator's teaching guide for my current workplace for a second time.

The Dream of Storytelling

Much of this weekend threatened rain, keeping me inside where I spent most of my time editing my novel manuscript. I'm hoping to pitch or query it this winter, but putting the final polish on it is difficult for me, perfectionist that I am. I realize some other writers have the same problem, but such knowledge is not enough to silence my inner critic.

Book Shopping: Festivals

Over the weekend I attended a local book festival that is said to be one of the biggest in the tri-state region. I find that label a bit disappointing, but only because I feel it could have been better organized. The hosting organization had set up two tents in a community park, one for YA and adult literature and the other for children's books, and there were several vendors in between these tents. For as large as the park happens to be, I feel a third tent could have been added rather than packing the authors inside the two tents like feathers on a goose.

History, Hobbies, and Hopes

Over the weekend, I joined my parents in attending a gun show. Normally I find these events to be a waste of my time. Most of the vendors display modern weapons with composite stocks, overly-priced shotguns, antiques from WWI and WWII, or handguns with slides and clips. But none of these guns interest me. I'm not into shooting sports (although I was an archery instructor for a summer camp), and hunting in my little neck of the woods is not good enough to justify spending more than $300-$450 on a shotgun.

Taking a Music Break

Today I decided to take a pause in listening to lecture series on my way to and from work to listen to some music instead. Over the weekend I got a song stuck in my head from one of the first CDs I bought as a teenager. It's from The Chieftains' "Tears of Stone" album, and once upon a time, I used some of the music on this CD to help inspire some character and world development in my writing. By listening to this music, I'm hoping to spur my desire to write and edit into action. Again I'm finding that long days at the office are killing my energy to do much of anything once I get some free time, and I want to put an end to this lethargic procrastination.

The Unheard Voices

I started listening to another lecture series last week, this one on essay writing. And within the first two lectures, the professor had already rubbed me the wrong way. She spoke about a trip she took where she deliberately did not take a camera with her, because she wished to experience her destination using all of her senses rather than focusing it through the framework of a lens. While this is a position I can respect, the way she referred to photography as the editing of the world to show only what the photographer wants the audience to see is not how I personally go about my photo trips. And it set me off for a while. I really wanted to stop listening to the lecture series after that second lesson, but I have decided to continue on to see what else the professor has to offer that may prove useful to me. I will listen, although I disagree.

History Beyond Timelines of Discovery

For the past week and a half, I have been listening to a lecture course on the history surrounding the theory of evolution, and it has left me contemplating how ideas, particularly ways of understanding, spread and change with the amount of information we have. Today, the concept of natural selection acting to produce changes in species over the course of generations strikes most people as logical and obvious, but Darwin spent many years working out that very logic after his famous visit to the Galapagos Islands. We, of course, have knowledge of genetics which had not yet been discovered at that time although experiments on inheritance of various traits were being conducted during Darwin's lifetime.

Know Your Audience

Over the weekend, I had planned to go on a day trip to one of my favorite natural areas with my camera and the dog. Unfortunately, those plans were derailed but forces beyond my control, and so I spent my time catching up on some TV series that had been recommended to me. While watching pilot episodes through streaming websites, I became quite aware of differences in writing and presentation and the nuances of what I find to be enjoyable storytelling. A great deal of credit goes to actors and directors when it comes to film-based production, but I find that when it comes to my own preferences, it's the writers' work that either makes or breaks a show or movie.