Three or four months ago, my patient husband and I made reservations at the Harraseeket Inn in Maine, so that we could celebrate the completion of the History of the Medieval World.

Well, the History of the Medieval World is still incomplete. I finally forced myself to admit that I wasn’t going to finish it by the end of the summer, no matter how hard I worked; the book has a sort of rhythm of its own, and it isn’t drawing to a close. I’ve got some more thinking to do. I HATE admitting that I can’t meet a deadline (and I already didn’t meet this one once; it was supposed to be finished in the spring), but admitting that I can’t muscle my way through to the end is preferable to turning in a bad book.

Or losing my mind.

How do you decide how long is an adequate time to write the history of the entire middle ages?

Anyway, we decided to go to Maine. I was in desperate need of a break, the reservations were made, our friends Mel and Justin were willing to babysit, and we had both cleared our schedules, which is not so easy when you either work or parent for 98% of your waking hours.

So here we are, in Maine; and although it would be lovely if the book were also done (more on this later), I’m already feeling the creative sections of my cerebral cortex–practically bashed into insensibility by the club-wielding thug in my brain who responds to each finished page by shouting, “Write faster!”–are beginning to struggle back to consciousness. It is (literally) twenty degrees cooler in southern Maine than in Virginia. We went for a long walk wearing SWEATERS. And then we had lobster (Pete) and clams (me) for dinner.

Seriously, clams in New England are like a DIFFERENT FOOD than clams at, say, Red Lobster in Williamsburg, Virginia. It’s like the difference between home grown and store tomatoes, or between Fuji apples shipped from Japan to the U.S. and Fuji apples grown in your own backyard.

Although I was born in New England (Massachusetts, thanks to my father’s time as a Navy doctor), I’m essentially a Virginian, and I don’t get lobster. Or crab, really. Lots of effort and mess, a little bit of fairly pleasant meat. But clams are something else. Once you’ve tasted the real thing, you can never go back to the Long John Silver version.

Showing 10 comments
  • A Circle of Quiet

    If you get near the shore, Claire and I would love to see pictures. LOVE IT. We have dreams of the Maine shore…wonderful dreams.

    Have a great time,

  • mary kathryn

    I think your thug’s evil twin lives in my brain. He says, “work harder!!” I with they’d BOTH go on vacation and leave us alone! I’m glad you’re getting a break. Maine is so beautiful.

  • Lori

    I so don’t like sweet seafood. Hubby loves lobster (not that he’s had any in the entire 19 years we’ve been married, but he claims to love it) and crab but I surely don’t. Give me some good old Gulf Coast shrimp and I’m a happy girl.

    Have a blast on your vacation! I’m jealous of the temps. It’s like a sauna here in Cincinnati.

  • Michele

    Looks yummy!

    Please don’t rush the Middle Ages! I hope your readers will get a sense that era was not just the Dark Ages! You could write a whole series on the fabulous 12th century!


  • Trish

    I’m glad you went. It never hurts to give your taxed brain some breathing room. I’m glad to hear it. We celebrated our anniversary in Maine in 2006 and loved it. Hubby loved the lobster rolls (we had a view of them pulling the pots in from our cottage) and I loved the fall colors. Sweater weather indeed. It is just a nice crisp feel that I adore.

    Enjoy. Best wishes on your return to writing. No hurrying, we are happy to wait.

    Take care, Susan.

    Trish Lawrence

  • Carole in DE

    Oh Susan, do NOT leave Maine without a visit to Harraseeket Lobster Pound on the Harraseeket River. It is THE best, the setting, the food, the lobster, the clam fritters, oh my, my mouth is SO watering. (and for commenters, visit their website to SEE the setting.) We are thinking of a trip to Maine just so we can visit this place again.

  • Much, much, MUCH deserved time off! We all need to get away and re-energize. Glad that you had the chance!


  • Mike

    I have fond memories of a trip I made to Boothbay Harbor a few years ago. Fresh coastal air, cool temperatures and great food. You make me want to take a return trip!

  • Kelly

    I’d rather have a really good book to read than an average book sooner. Hmmm. That’s probably not good grammar, but oh well.

    Congrats on the R&R.

  • Gwen in TX

    The clams taste different in New England, because they include the belly.

    When you get frozen seafood, no bellies.

    My dh was so spoiled when we lived in Rhode Island. He doesn’t eat clams anymore — they just aren’t the same.

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