posted by Doranna

NotepadWhenever I travel, I take work with me. Whether it's to the doctor's office (I'm typing this in a parking lot even now) or an agility weekend or even running errands--you never know when you might get stuck in traffic!

But generally, when I go on weekend trips, I hunt hardcopy work--polishing or edits or various production chores. Or so it's been for the past lo-these-many years. If I hope to grab a moment to write first draft, I do it with pen and paper (a process that somehow feels luxurious these days). I do have a laptop--in fact, it's my writing machine--but it's too cumbersome to bring along on an agility trip when we're already laden with dogs and trial gear and personal gear, especially when chances are I'll only write a page or two at very most. Hotels, I have discovered, just don't do it for my muse.

However...evolution happens. Over the past several months, things have come together to make for change. For one thing, a series of unforgiving and tight deadlines...congruent with an unusually active trialing season (set into motion before we knew Connery would be attacked or Belle would be injured, as we seek the holy grail of his MACH and her PAX titles...and then we decided to make the best of it). On top of that, the new trial sites were five-six hours away, instead of the usual two-three.

The first step of the evolution was the converter...the one that worked in the trusty trialing van and which allowed me to plug in the laptop on the road. (Don't talk to me about batteries...cost a mint, last a whole lot less time than they claim, get used up fast. The ultimate laptop battery exists only in TV land, where plot also prevents Our Various Heroes from losing their cell phone calls in mid-word.) That was a wondrous trip indeed, and on the road I wrote crucial Ghost Whisperer finale scenes and saved a deadline.

On the next trip, I added music. I don't generally play music on my laptop; for one thing, my hands at work cover the speakers. For another, in my office, the stereo handles that job much more effectively. But I happened to pick up some CDs at the beginning of the trip, and so I gave it try. Given the road noise effect, it wasn't an optimal experience, and yet...ooh, I liked it.

And so I borrowed some head phones for the next trip.

And here's what I'm realizing...instead of being a chore added to the already stressful bustle of packing and traveling, this writing on the road, it's turning into a luxury. There's no email coming in; there are no new “you'd better take care of this now/first!” items landing in my lap. No one's calling me. No one even knows exactly where I am, other than my travel companion and my dogs. That first draft focus slides right into place. Oh, yeah, it takes a little jostling and juggling to get the keyboard in a place where I can type well, and in a position I can sustain for any time; my lower back is so fussy about such things that I use a standing station at home much of the time. So there are limits.

But still.

A luxury. A look-forward-to-it. A writing vacation!

Nevada_2 And that bring us to last weekend, during which we headed out to entirely new turf--northwest, into Nevada--and through entirely new and fascinating landscape. There I was, ensconsed in the back of the van, dogs snug in their shared crate, a soundtrack playing through the headphones (Batman Begins, for the curious), the still-new Nocturne book at the keyboard before me, good company behind the wheel in the driver's seat. Already sounds pretty good, doesn't it? And then you have to add in the landscape. Big desert mountain ranges piling up on one another as we headed west, then north, some of them topped with snow, all of them playing tag with fast-moving storm clouds.

The best of it came when we were approaching the Nevada state line--there's a big honking climb up a pass and then on the other side, you quickly drop three thousand feet. We drove up into that pass with hugely dramatic dark looming clouds on either side, big black living clouds that changed shape and shadows at an amazing pace. We entered that mass, drove through it over the top of the pass, and then cruised on down the other side, where the air was crystal clear and the light and clouds and shadows played with the most amazing landscape--precarious-looking spires of rock and big looming formations. And naturally, before it was all over, we drove past a huge, complete rainbow stretched out over the wet desert.

And there I was, typing away...and somewhere in the background, my muse was laughing. You know, the one where she thinks she's been so damned clever and sly and really pulled off a good one. I won't tell her it's really the other way around...but the truth is, we're both looking forward to February, when--after a mid-winter break--we head back to Nevada for another trial.

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