>So, it’s almost my turn to post over at the Southern Authors’ blog, “A Good Blog is Hard to Find.” At first they said this month’s theme was “favorite authors and why?” and “Who is your author best friend?”

I thought about those questions for a while, and then I got an email saying the “optional themes” are “writing struggles” and “setting.”

Since I’ve already blogged on and off about my favorite author, Pat Conroy, I decided I’d chose one of the optional themes. (Read my review of Pat’s latest novel, “South of Broad.”) I’m still chewing on it…. but I’m drawn to “setting.” Why? Because setting can actually be a character in a novel. But I won’t say more… that’s just a teaser until my post on Wednesday at A Good Blog.

Meanwhile, back here at Pen and Palette, I know some of you have been waiting for me to blog about our trip to Italy. We’ve been home for a week, and just today I downloaded my (500) photos and began going through them, and frankly it’s overwhelming. If there’s a disadvantage to digital cameras, it’s the license it gives to shoot so many pictures! Back in the day of film (and yes, I know a lot of serious artists still use film) I would choose carefully as I shot my pictures. Now it’s just here a click, there a click, everywhere a click click. (And yeh, that gladiator guy was hot.)

And I know the last thing anyone wants to read is a travel journal. Just buy Rick Steves’ book for that. So, I should take time to write stories about the special people and places that stirred my soul on our trip, and maybe I’ll do that one day. But not today. If you want to see lots of pictures, I’ll have them up on a Facebook album later tonight. On this post, I’ll just slip in a few favorites.

Meanwhile, back to “setting”… when I first read that it was an optional theme for A Good Blog, I actually thought, “do they mean the setting of the book, or the setting in which the author writes?” Of course they must mean the importance of setting in the book (which I’ll address in my post on Wednesday)… but for now, I’ll address the importance of setting for the AUTHOR.(That’s me hanging out laundry at our villa in rural Tuscany. Now that’s a setting I could write about!)

As you know I live in Memphis, Tennessee, with my husband of 40 years, (that’s my sweetheart, left)and many wonderful friends. I’m active in my church, and keep a fairly active social life, meeeting various friends for coffee, lunch or drinks a day or two each week. In our home, I share a very small office with my husband, who is a physician and writes scientific papers, which he can do while: (a) talking to me, (b) watching football on TV, (c) playing games on his iPad, and (d) texting or emailing on his laptop or Blackberry. So, he doesn’t understand the amount of TIME and SPACE I need in order to do creative writing. Well, perhaps he understands more than I think, because he has just agreed to “sponsor” me for a month’s “writing sabbatical” in Seagrove Beach, Florida.

Yes, I’m leaving on Wednesday morning for a month on the beach, alone, writing.

I thought that sentence needed its own paragraph. I’m packing up my laptop, monitor, portable printer, paper, research notes, storyboard, and off I go to a SETTING where I hope to be able to finish the first draft of my novel-in-progress.

Oh, I’ll have wi-fi and cable TV, so the usual temptations will follow me. What I won’t have? A schedule. I can write, sleep, eat, walk on the beach, etc. whenever I want to. Since I was barely 19 when I got married, I haven’t ever really been alone, as an adult. Here’s hoping the muse will follow me to the beach! I’ll be posting from Seagrove on a regular basis, and I’ll be taking a weekend break for the 2010 Creative Nonfiction Conference in Oxford, Mississippi, in the middle of my writing retreat, which is really great timing, since I’m always so inspired after these workshops and really only want to WRITE WRITE WRITE.

And honestly, the best thing I can say about “setting” and the beach is that the SUNSETS are fabulous! Watch for few in coming posts. My second-floor condo is right on the beach, with a view of the ocean through the sliding glass doors, and a western (sunset) view through a side window. That’s where my “desk” will be set up. This sunset? It’s in Rome. Ciao!

Please share!

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