The Value of A Vacation: Oregon Coast

kent_oregonFor anyone who’s attempted to follow my blogs, you’re aware that I’ve been away from blogging for a while.  It’s the book tour.  Eats up all my time.  That and trying to meet deadline on the next Cork O’Connor novel.  But in the meantime, I did compose a blog entry that I think may be of interest, particularly to anyone who’s stuck in their writing at the moment.

I managed during the early part of my tour to spend a week in Lincoln City, on the Oregon coast.  And something amazing happened there.

For those of you who aren’t aware of it, I lived most of my high school years in Oregon.  I still have some family in Portland, so I come back periodically.  But not just for family.  Oregon is a beautiful place, and no more so than along its remarkable coastline.

Lincoln City is a resort town.  It has all the downsides of that kind of community.  Too many shops selling crap, too many cars crowding the single main street (the famous 101, the Pacific Coast Highway), too many signs screaming at you:  “Come in here!”  “Buy here!”  “See the amazing whatever in here!”  It proved, however to be a wonderful place to stay.

oregon3We rented a house perched high on a cliff overlooking the ocean.  The view, as you might imagine, was stunning.  We watched whales cavort not three hundred yards from shore.  We saw seals in the surf.  The sunsets were glorious.  At night, you could walk on the silver road the full moon paved across the dark sea.

That was all fabulous, of course.  But this was also a working vacation for me.  I have a deadline to meet—the next Cork O’Connor book—and things weren’t going well.  I’d been stymied over the ending.  The book is called Vermilion Drift.  It’s the story of a serial killer’s spree in the early 60s that comes back to haunt Cork in the current day.  There are dark, grisly secrets that Cork uncovers about his family’s past.  It’s a pretty good tale, but I simply couldn’t bring it to a close in a way that satisfied me.  I’d been stuck for weeks on that ending.

The house had a hot tub.  Every morning after I’d put in my time writing, I shucked my clothes, threw on my suit, and hit the hot tub.  Like the house, it sat at the lip of a sheer cliff.  And like the view from the house, what I could see from the hot tub was nothing short of remarkable.  I sat with all that relaxing, bubbling hot water swirling around my body, and with that incredible sky and ocean and coastline to rest my eyes on.  And my mind, oh my mind just opened up.  The day before I left Lincoln City, sitting in the hot tub in the morning, the closing for Vermilion Drift descended on me, drifting down like a feather from an angel’s wing.  And it was good.  It was very good.

oregon2I’ve been doing a lot of book events lately to promote my most recent novel, Heaven’s Keep. I’ve been flying or driving long distances, eating badly, getting too little sleep, exhausting myself.  And all the time, the next book deadline has been sitting on my shoulders.  What I found on this cliff house in Oregon is that there is great value in a vacation.  Beyond the obvious—the loosening of knots in both mind and body—currents of creative energy, blocked by the pressures of busy days, begin to flow again and breakthroughs become possible.  Weights are lifted.  Smiles return.  And the future becomes a beautiful thing to contemplate.  My wife assures me I could achieve the same sense of peace and purpose with yoga.  I don’t do yoga.  But vacations I’m pretty good at.

8 thoughts on “The Value of A Vacation: Oregon Coast”

  1. Kent,

    As my Australian friends say, “Good on ya’, mate.” Glad the vacation was, well, productive.

    I hear amazing things about the Oregon coast. We are volunteer hosts in a 21000 acre park in NE AZ in the winter. Some fellow hosts spend their summers working in one of the glorious OR coastal parks and their photos are incredible. I think I understand how that place did its magic on you.

    I reread Copper River before we headed to AZ. I had forgotten how very much I loved Wren and Charlie. Got me waxing about other great kid-characters. That led to a rediscovery of To Kill a Mockingbird and Scout’s tail of the small town south. It is hard to write accurately and authentically from a child’s point of view without coming off like a bad sitcom – either snarky, ditzy or way to sassy. You, Mr. Krueger, have captured that “tweener” voice beautifully.

    Thunder Bay awaits,
    – E
    BTW – I have to agree with the Mrs. Yoga quiets the mind and opens me up to the writing gods like nothing else… Plus, makes me bendy.

  2. Kent,

    My parents were born not far from Lincoln City and I spent most of my childhood a few hours from that coastal magic. I went to high school in Central Oregon, a similarly beautiful, desolate landscape. While I was in school at Oregon State, I would often drive to the coast, park myself in an oceanside cafe or coffeeshop and soak up all the scenery while studying. The days I remember most were in January and February–blustery and harsh. I’d park my car at a beach access point by a tiny cafe and run through the pelting sand to watch, drinking coffee and eating chowder, while the waves hurled spray over the roof of my tiny sedan. I haven’t been back in years (I now live in Minneapolis), but it everytime I visit, it still feels like home.

    -Lisa

  3. Kent, you were wonderful coming up north to be our judge, to give a workshop and to speak at our book release party. It was very memorable and I have been to a lot of workshops but I have never taken away more than from yours. I keep a little bulletin board by my desk for job schedules etc. But, most importantly, the pyramid of a story that you gave us at the workshop. I look at it often and it reminds me to stay objective. I look forward to reading more of your blog. Thanks again.

  4. Just thought you should know that my husband and I are reading your books (in order.) I have brought the book into the house and have hidden it immediately…otherwise he starts it before I get to it. We are thoroughly enjoying Cork and the setting. Glad you had a good vacation…nothing like a change of scenery. Keep writing…we will keep reading!!!!!

  5. just discovered you and dennis lehane so imagine my surprise on seeing you read him also. thank you for the cork o’connor series it has captured my imagination and rfreshed my reading.

  6. i read your books in orde and i think there amazing , they put you right in the story captivating.

  7. I am a new fan of yours. have read (on recorded cds) two of your works. to couch my words, I ‘ll simply say I’m open minded to all ideas and situations in prose. However, I flinch at taking God’s name in vain. You are the first writer I’ve experienced who can weave a gripping tale, with earthy characters, and believable violence without that particular profanity. A heartfelt thanks.

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