A Week in Mull, a Writerly Recharge

I know that a lot of people assume writing books is easy, because you’re just at a desk, typing away all day.  If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you might recall some of my previous posts (which were eaten in a website crash, but oh well) on the various stages of Manuscript to Book.

The truth is, publishing is mentally taxing even if you love writing to bits.  The best non-publishing comparison I have is a school essay.  You know that feeling after finishing an essay? That sense of, “Yes! I’m done! I’m going to go rest now!” It’s like that. Except in publishing, that rest is brief. Because after that, you can expect to edit and edit and edit and reread that same essay dozens of times until you reach the point when the entire manuscript reads like vomit on paper.

And that’s why I am a huge supporter of writers recharging their batteries. Taking a few days, or even weeks, off of writing to regain perspective on their projects. It’s difficult to put down the pen and think of a holiday as a necessary aspect of work instead of worrying: I should be writing. I’m being lazy. I’m doing this fun thing instead of doing my job and I’m the worst.  That kind of thinking can lead to forcing out a draft that — and I really believe this — would probably never be as fun to write as the one written after a recharge.  I guess that’s important for me; that even though writing is my job, that I still enjoy doing it.

So Mr. May and I went to the Isle of Mull for a brief holiday.

WM0A6483We stayed at this gorgeous B&B in Tobermory, which was just perfect for retreat. It had views of the bay. In the morning, I woke to the sound of soft waves and church bells and boats on the water.


We drove around the island on the single-track roads with its scary hairpin turns and thin roads just above steep cliffsides framed by high rock faces.


A little over 2 years ago, we spent an entire day in Mull. Like most places in Scotland, a day is never enough time to explore. As we came to discover, a week wasn’t enough, either. I found myself thinking, I’ll do this next time. There’s so much to see, wee island that it is. The weather is constantly changing, and it always, always feels so magical.

WM0A6611-EditMr. May and I did a lot of hiking and walking, which is really the best way to explore a lot of places in Scotland.  In Mull, especially, since there are so few roads.  From Mull, there’s ferry access to a few of the surrounding islands. We spent one day walking through the mists of Iona, which was covered in vivid heather. It rained heavily during our walk, but we had on our rain gear and waterproof boots, so we enjoyed how gorgeous it all was.


The next day, we spent the day in Ulva, an island a mere 2 minute ferry ride from Mull. You signal the ferryman from the mainland and he comes across the bay to pick you up and ferry you across. We had been all prepared for inclement weather (similar to our day in Iona) as per the forecast, but Ulva was sunny and hot. The forecast had predicted rain all week so I was unprepared and ended up a bit burned! But the views of the coastline and surrounding smaller islands were so worth it.

WM0A6836We spent our last day hiking the mainland, and one of the guidebooks suggested a beach that took about an hour to get to. It’s covered in dark, volcanic rock and the water is an incredible teal, dark where the thick patches of seaweed grow. We walked around the white sand beach and rested on the rocks that overlook the sea.

WM0A6975And now we’re back, and I’m well rested, and ready to write again.

xx Elizabeth May