What I Did On My Summer Vacation: Not Enough, Or Is It? / by Heather Kapplow

Hello. I'm writing from my Summer vacation, a no-budget tour of North Carolina, which I am trying to somehow use as a roving artist's retreat. It isn't working as well as I'd hoped it might, but it's not not working...

The time in motion and away from my usual routines is definitely stimulating thought. Tonight (it's 12:22am on June 19) I'm thinking about my art-work as writing-work (as opposed to my writing-work which is not art-work) and how to make it better writing. My bedtime reading, borrowed from the generous friends I'm staying with in Oak Island, is John Gardner's On Becoming a Novelist. It's serving as a reminder to me that no matter what form writing takes, it probably needs to have a story embedded in it to be compelling. Even if it isn't intended to be read traditionally.

The next step is to move this into the writing component of the piece I'm currently working on, Civic Engorgement. The mini-texts involved have been separate from one another so far, but I am thinking now about how to bring them closer together into a single story even though they will never be received that way. I think it would make the piece stronger even if no one sees it. I would like to somehow make Civic Engorgement into story about heroic things that people do as citizens of an international, time-spanning creative community to sustain an amorphous creative non-state that people can become citizens of by sheer willfulness regardless of where they actually reside in time and space.

I've been thinking about writing all month (see this month's Big Red & Shiny) but also am trying not to get too bogged down in it, and have managed to do some small amounts of work (see photo below) on the non-writing components of Civic Engorgement while in transit as well. Not the amount of this work I had hoped to do, but some.

 Blurry vacation cellphone shot of a tiny speck of  Civic Engorgement  in progress.

Blurry vacation cellphone shot of a tiny speck of Civic Engorgement in progress.

I've also managed to see a little bit of art and am appreciating the art-sensibilities of the South as a nice change of pace from the Northeastern ones that I am most familiar with. A kind curator-friend in Chapel Hill showed me some interesting, thoughtfully assembled new additions to the Nasher Art Museum's collection at Duke University, and I was very, very lucky to get a full-building tour of Elsewhere in Greensboro. I hope to spend a bit more time there someday...

So four days and halfway into my Summer vacation, I haven't done as much work as I'd hoped I would (what was I thinking when I thought I would be able to work straight through a vacation??) but I am starting to see signs that taking some genuine down time might improve the quality of what I actually make. If I can get it made!!!