What I Learned (about myself) on My Vacation

I don’t think anyone can take a trip–of any length, to any locale–and come home unchanged in some way. My week at the beach was no exception, and I thought I’d share some of the things I learned.
–I packed a huge carry-all full of books, fresh notepads, and stacks of Publishers Weekly magazines, fully intending to read reviews, get through at least three books for pleasure, draft the proposal for my next book and toy with a nonfiction idea. I learned I needed a break from work, period. I managed to read one book (more about that later). That’s it.
–I learned it takes nearly a week of sleep to make up for a month of late nights and early mornings.
–The book I did read, TRAVELING MERCIES by Anne Lamott, was actually a “re-read.” I read it years ago, but my neighborhood book club is discussing it this week, so I wanted to refresh my memory. I adore this book. I admit that Lamott is not for everyone–her politics are ultra-liberal, her Christianity is a tad unorthodox, her language is spicy, her life choices are occasionally dubious. All that aside, I do think she is for most people. She is such a brave writer in her honesty, in her willingness to let her warts show. (Or rather “Her Aunties,” as she calls her dimpled thighs, with great affection). I laughed on nearly every page, and cried on several more. Ultimately, she left me feeling good about me. So I learned a) that I still love her writing and want to move her latest, GRACE, EVENTUALLY, to the top of my to-be-read pile and b) that I want to be a braver writer.
–John and I had twenty-one years on the next oldest couple at our beach house. (There were five couples altogether, and three little kids). I learned that I know absolutely nothing about the slang of the twenty-and thirty-somethings, much less the slang of the twenty-first century teenagers I just wrote about in my Work-in-Progress. That’s why I love Young Adult author Scott Westerfield’s advice on using (or NOT using) slang when writing from a teen perspective. Among other things, Westerfield cautions against the use of slang because it not only dates a story, but the current slang in San Francisco may not be the current slang in NY. Slang is not important to a story; it’s the action and emotion that counts, and in that arena, I feel confident.
–I learned it really doesn’t matter what bathing suit you wear. The Aunties will be there regardless, and no one really cares. Or if they do care, so what?
–I got to know five new people quite well–Michelle, Tom, Meg, Sam and Sadie–and discovered that where there are differences in age and politics and life experiences, there are far greater similarities in loving and caring and belonging.
–I learned that, one week after completing my latest novel, I feel really good about it!
So what have you all learned on your most recent trips?


  1. Margo on July 9, 2007 at 9:22 am

    Above all else, my latest trip reminded me that ‘living’ means to appreciate every moment and to slow down and look, smell and breathe life to its fullest. The beauty of the sea was all around me and I took time to treasure every moment I was near it. I feel that my paintings of the sea are better than I’ve done before because of the experience I had…I quess you could say that Nantucket spoke to me in a very artistic way and I’ve applied that to my work and life. And Diane, the people there don’t care what they look like in swimsuits either…and noone else cared either…everyone was just happy to be enjoying life in a very special place.

  2. Margo on July 9, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    P.S….welcome home Diane!

  3. Diane Chamberlain on July 9, 2007 at 6:11 pm

    Margo, I think your trip to Nantucket had a major impact on you, especially on your art. Your first sentence reminds me of a TS Eliot quote in the Lamott book: “Where is the life we have lost in living?” I think you found it!

  4. Krysia on July 9, 2007 at 6:49 pm

    Glad you had a good trip. I’m counting down the days to my first real vacation. When you spoke of slang it made me laugh. I have almost 10 years on most of the kids I work with and half the time don’t know what they are saying. I sometimes have no idea what people my age are saying. Granted most of them don’t believe me when I tell them how old I am, so it all works out.

  5. Diane Chamberlain on July 9, 2007 at 7:05 pm

    >>I sometimes have no idea what people my age are saying.

  6. Krysia on July 9, 2007 at 9:23 pm

    My friend and I have been planning a trip to Vegas for 2 years now. We are crossing our fingers for Nov.

  7. Julie on July 9, 2007 at 9:34 pm

    I learned that rare vacations with extended families are priceless, but sometimes, even though you’ve grown up and “gotten over” childhood hurts, they may still crop up and take you by surprise in the midst of seemingly simple conversations. 🙂 (Bittersweet smile)

  8. Cheryl on July 9, 2007 at 9:56 pm

    We went to our campground where we go for weekends for a long week ,and I learned you don’t always have to go somewhere glamorous to find beautiful scenery and relax and enjoy your family. It can be a short drive away.
    Diane, I aslo wanted to say that I read THE ESCAPE ARTIST on my vacation and really enjoyed it. I knew this would be a good book for my vacation.

  9. Diane Chamberlain on July 9, 2007 at 11:52 pm

    Krysia, I hope you make it to Vegas in November!
    Julie–ah, the voice of reality. It’s not all sweetness and light after all, is it.
    Cheryl, How great to have a special place nearby to get away! And I’m glad you enjoyed THE ESCAPE ARTIST.

  10. Susan Manning on July 11, 2007 at 10:29 am

    Is there a sequel to the Kiss River book ? I just finished reading it & wondered if there was a sequel to it …thanks for any info you can give me … I am a new fan of Diane’s & now trying to read all of her books…
    Susan Manning

  11. Diane Chamberlain on July 11, 2007 at 10:43 am

    Susan, KISS RIVER is the middle book in a trilogy. The order is KEEPER OF THE LIGHT, KISS RIVER, and HER MOTHER’S SHADOW. HER MOTHER’S SHADOW picks up a year after KISS RIVER and focuses more on Lacey’s story. In my humble opinion, it’s the best of the three, although many of my readers tell me that KEEPER OF THE LIGHT is their all-time favorite of my books.

  12. Margo on July 11, 2007 at 11:31 am

    Without a doubt, I am one of those readers Diane. KEEPER OF THE LIGHT is not only my fav D Chamberlain novel of all time, it is my very fav book of ANY author. Of course I loved the entire trilogy but KEEPER stands alone as a classic in my opinion. I’ve now read it 4 times over the course of 12-14 years and soon it will be time for a 5th reading. It’s simply ‘one of those’ that never leaves me.

  13. Diane Chamberlain on July 11, 2007 at 11:47 am

    I think you’ve now read it more times than I have, Margo!

  14. Margo on July 11, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    LOL Diane! The book is starting to show it too…I handle it very carefully when I take it down from my special Diane Chamberlain bookshelf.

  15. Susan Manning on July 12, 2007 at 7:04 pm

    I am definitely getting the Keeper of the Light & In her Mother’s Shadow …I’ll already know the middle part of the story …I would have read them in order but as I said I am a new fan & loving Dian’s books …even though I’m reading the triology backwards ! :>)

  16. Diane Chamberlain on July 12, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    >>…even though I’m reading the triology backwards ! :>)

  17. meg Skaggs on July 15, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    Hi Diane!! I feel honored to be mentioned in your blog. What you said, about the age differance is so true!! Sam and I had such a wonderful time and we are still talking about it!!

  18. Diane Chamberlain on July 15, 2007 at 4:18 pm

    Hi Meg! I miss you guys!

  19. Michelle on July 15, 2007 at 8:19 pm

    Hi there! Hope you and John are doing well. It was wonderful spending time with everyone at the beach. I hope we can all do it again.

  20. Diane Chamberlain on July 15, 2007 at 9:00 pm

    Hi Michelle,
    We’re doing great, thanks! I’m going to forward you a pic of Tom chowing down on crab legs and wings.

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