Daydream Believer

When I had to work full-time, and especially during those last frantic and futile years as the company I worked for went down the tubes, I would visualize my ideal life. I wanted to do: Nothing. I wanted to spend my days staring off into space, daydreaming.

As a goal, this is difficult to explain to anyone. People said, “Oh, you’ll get bored. You should plan to do something, get a part-time job, volunteer.” I read page after page of worried cautions about people who didn’t ‘plan’ their retirement activities and spiraled into depressions. They needed, said the pundits, something concrete to do.

Well, I’m not sure I ever formally retired. My day job went away, true, and since my husband and I had saved every penny I didn’t have to find another one. (This is not ‘luck’ but that’s another rant.) I spent hours out of every day daydreaming, staring off into space, doing absolutely nothing. I had the time and I used it.

I stopped work over four years ago. I’m not bored.  I feel no urge to find something to ‘do’. I’m already doing it.

Now, you might ask, what about the writing? Isn’t that doing something? Well, yes, but the writing comes directly from the daydreaming. You can call it plotting, you can call it ‘working on the manuscript’ but really, I’m fantasizing and drifting, making up people, solving puzzles, playing around. All my creativity comes from the part of me that got squished down by work and commuting and worrying and lack of sleep.

I have a book in process of becoming, and while I’d like it to move faster, it has its own rhythm and comes at its own time. Once it gets done, whenever the hell that will be, I have two more behind it ready to start. Once you commit to daydreaming, it’s endless.

Farewell, Amelia

Barbara Mertz, who wrote as Elizabeth Peters, has died at the age of 85. She wrote under several pseudonyms, including Barbara Michaels, but for me and a host of other readers the crown of her career was the Amelia Peabody series.

Normally, I’d go on to explain who and what Amelia was, but I find it hard to believe there’s anyone who reads who HASN’T read Crocodile on the Sandbank, The Deeds of the Disturber, and the over twenty (or is it thirty?) other titles in this series.

Years ago I was trapped at a dinner party with a Republican, male, NRA-loving wine snob. We had no common ground until he said hesitantly, “I’ve just read the greatest book, all about this woman who’s an archeologist in Egypt…” and we were off.

Everyone loved Amelia Peabody, everyone followed her adventures in Egypt as she pursued the Master Criminal(s), excavated tombs, collected an ever-expanding character list of relatives, enemies, and hangers-on, all while upholding her opinions on the care of donkeys, the proper way to sew on a button, and the rights of women. We all saw her so clearly (this genius creation of Barbara Mertz!): short, bosomy, indomitable even when locked in a pyramid with the air running out, and always accompanied by her trusty parasol.

It’s said Ms. Mertz put a lot of herself into Amelia. God, I hope so, because I wanted Amelia to be real. I’m sure I’m not the only fan who felt this way.

So, thank you, Barbara Mertz for creating Amelia, Emerson, and Ramses. You gave me and all your readers an enormous amount of pleasure. You all will be missed.