What is it about a voyage on a cruise ship that's so conducive to getting writing done? You'd think that lazy days at sea would drag by in a fog of somnolence, indolence and self-indulgence. I guess it depends on the voyage and on the writer.
Unlike most cruise fans, I'm not particularly sociable. Not for me the tea parties (on Holland-America, the Geezer Line, anyway), the beginner photography classes, the lei-stringing classes, the nightly Dancing with the Stars competition, the skin seminars on sun decks. Rather, I prefer the imposed quiet of the ship's library (Holland-America calls it the Explorations Cafe).
I do love routine. Every morning on our recent 15-day cruise from San Diego to Fort Lauderdale by way of the Panama Canal, Debby and I rose at 5:30, arrived in the ship's gym at 6, then worked out for half an hour or 45 minutes. Then came breakfast and a quick shower, and by 8 I was in the ship's library. While people around me read, worked jigsaw puzzles or looked up the (very slow) New York Times on the library's computers, I sat off in a corner for two, three or four hours and banged out new pages of Tracking the Beast on my Macbook Air.
Then it was time for lunch and a nap, and an afternoon of reading on the promenade deck and sometimes a little more shoving words around in the library. Finally it would be time for cocktails and then supper, after which I was in bed by 8.
Shipboard drill somehow seems to benefit writers who are more desultory than disciplined. Like me. In retirement I've become the kind of author who, in Peter De Vries' wonderful phrase, loves being a writer but can't stand the paperwork.
Of course, on days the ship was in port, I made sure to go ashore to see sights and photograph birds, beasts and people. (See the photo blog at left). Part of cruising is being a goggle-eyed tourist in sandals and sunglasses, and I'm very good at that.