Planning: If at all possible, the writer will finagle an entire family vacation around the future setting of her next book. No matter if the book takes place in the distant reaches of the earth, or simply one town over. Or, if the desired location was not finagled, wherever the writer ends up WILL one day become the setting for a book. Somehow, someday. Furthermore, any related museums, excursions, taste-testing, and the like, must be researched and itinerized (this would make a great verb) ahead of time. Not to be neurotic, but there must also be high-speed internet access. And no complaining, family, please.
Packing: Books. Notepads. Pens. Camera. Voice recorder. Laptop. Chargers. Extra chargers because experience has proven that one will somehow get sliced in transit <!>. Oh, and I guess some random changes of clothing. Anyone have room in their suitcase for more books?
The Visit: The writer will try very hard to relax. To keep the computer turned off. But the mind, oh the mind when it relaxes! It begins to dream wonderful dreams about new characters and inciting incidents. And how would you describe that smell of the pine trees? Woodsy, with a hint of vanilla? Clean? Sharp? Pungent? What is the word I’m looking for?
The Warning! Woe to the spouse of a writer. You will have to endure moments such as your wife booking a room at a bed and breakfast housed in a mansion built in the 1930s just so she can experience living (and sleeping!) in such a place. Try not to get embarrassed when she takes pictures of EVERYTHING. Including the little key-hole covers, the arched doorway leading to the bathroom, the intricate wood paneling, the chandeliers (both of them), the window levers….She just doesn’t know what little detail she might need for the next book.
Souvenirs. If the writer has done well with a camera, she may not need an extra suitcase for the local guide books, history books, local artisan crafts, pressed vegetation, etc that she tends to accumulate. It’s not her fault. A writer never knows what is important until she’s into the second draft. Besides, this is a vacation. Doesn’t everyone bring home soil samples?
P.S. The photo above is of the fabulous Blaylock Mansion located of the shores of Kootenay Lake near Nelson, B.C. Canada. Constructed in the mid-1930s, it has three levels, 22 rooms. And yes, the keyholes have little covers that you would have to sweep to the side if you had one of those thick, clunky old keys with you.