In the past, I’ve given myself permission to ease up on my writing goals when life gets in the way. During times like this week, I wonder if I’ve become too permissive, like the parent that lets their kids go to bed while eating a Hershey’s bar.
The kids are spending some time with their Yaya (“Grandma” in Greek) so my husband and I have a few days alone. My first thought was that I would get some character planning on my novel done. I’ve had that on my ‘to do’ list for several weeks now, so the thought of moving to the next step excited me.
I didn’t take the computer on the trip to meet my mother-in-law on Friday night because the glow of the laptop screen distracts my husband when he drives. I compromised, and read a book by pocket flashlight instead. All the while, I kept thinking: I should be working on my novel.
On Saturday morning, we began a two-day camping trip in Cottonwood. I didn’t take the computer, mainly because I’d have no way to charge it once the battery went dead. The other reason is that I never would’ve heard the end of it from my husband. I took paper and pen, but didn’t write a thing. We walked on trails around the campground, and even happened upon a nearby old cemetery. In the back of my mind, I thought: I should be writing chapter one.
We cooked hot dogs over a camp fire at night and talked to some camping neighbors from Wisconsin. My hubby and I talked about our plans for the next day, but something tugged at me; a little nag of guilt. I should be writing something. Anything.
Sunday morning, we drove through Sedona (stopping for a Starbucks coffee for hubby) and then to Oak Creek Canyon. We checked out some camp sites so we can make some summer reservations and then drove to West Fork Oak Creek. Neither one of us had been there before. Since we didn’t have the kids, we opted for the four-mile round trip trail that was “moderate” difficulty. I read the fine print and saw there were “stream crossings,” but I figured it wouldn’t be that bad.
Before hitting the trail, I noticed some wet and muddy people, so I changed into my hiking boots. Good thing.
When we got to the last stream crossing, we observed that the rocks were completely submerged in water, so we’d either have to take our shoes off and cross bare foot, or get wet. We met Nancy, a life coach from New York, while we leaned on a rock contemplating whether to push forward or go back. We watched a couple attempt to cross and both slipped off the rocks into the stream. We decided to go back. We’ll go again over the summer and bring rubber-soled beach shoes.
Nancy was hiking alone, so she headed back with us. We chatted the entire way back to the trailhead, where we took pictures of each other and exchanged email addresses. I’m still in awe of her sense of adventure: she had flown to Phoenix for business and made a last-minute decision to extend her stay in Arizona and drive up to Sedona.
During the hike, it didn’t cross my mind once that I should be writing instead of what I was doing at the moment. Now, I realize that these two days sans computer and nary a written word were exactly what I should’ve been doing. Live first, write later.