Monday, June 26, 2006

...and we're back.

The great thing about being a freelancer on holiday is you finally get to do some guilt-free, non-research reading. 50+ weeks of the year, any reading I do is almost always invariably research for some project or another - World War II tomes for Fiends of the Eastern Front; books about myths and legends for the Phantom comic scripts I write for Egmont Sweden; even magazines and newspapers are diligently combed for tips, leads and articles that might spark a story idea. As a consequence, I rarely read fiction purely for enjoyment.

But on holiday I abandon guilt about non-research reading and let myself wallow. So while staying in the lovely gite pictured above, I read [and sometimes wallowed] in two Donna Leons, the latest Robert Crais, Arthur and George by Julian Barnes, The Lighthouse by P.D. James, The Inner Voice by Renee Fleming, The Imaginery Girlfriend by John Irving, The Girl From the Fiction Department by Hilary Spurling [or was it Spurlock?] and - after running out of things to read - made a start on The Camel Club by David Baldacci, having bought it at Paris CDG Airport.

Out of all those, the second of the Donna Leons was perhaps the most enjoyable, althought John Irving's wry memoir about wrestling [and some mentions of his early writing career] ran it a close second. Donna Leon writes contemporary crime novels set in Venice. They're enjoyable rather than challenging reads, some better than others, but all offer a quick dip in a world most of us can only imagine inhabiting. They're a cosy read, but never less than entertaining - and that suits me as holiday reading. Plus Leon writes some of the best food porn anyway, loving descriptions of Italian meals and food that feel like somebody just feed you one two many plates of the most delicious risotti in the world. [If you're interested, the most delicious risotti in the world can be found at a place in Bologna called Il Tartufo - but that's a tip from another holiday.]

The downside of being a freelancer on holiday is that not only do you spend too much money while you're away, you're not earning. Those on salaries get to have their holiday and be paid for taking it - us freelancers get to have our holiday and spend the next few weeks scrambling for work, trying to find some way of paying for our brief, guilt-stricken sojourn in the sun. The tax bill's due at the end of July, the credit car bill's due at the end of the week and - surprise, suprise - nobody bothered to pay me while I was away for the work done before I went on holiday.

But I chose to go freelance, so whining about it is disingenuous at best. Let's just say it was a lovely break, I feel refreshed and am itching to get on with some work. I've got two very different jobs to do this week: a 5000 word text story for America's Moonstone Books prose anthology about costumed hero The Phantom; and an article to write for the Judge Dredd Megazine. Plus there's a 100-minute interview with writer-artist John Higgins about his long career of work for 2000 AD, and no shortage of leads to chase up for future work. I even thought of an idea for a screenplay while I was driving to the supermarket yesterday, inspired by my holiday in the middle of the France.

Break's over; it's time to do some work.

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