In Texan, 'fixin' to' is the equivalent of preparing to do something. This can either be a psychological preparing: "I'm fixin' to get up the nerve to call Carol and tell her I can't make it tonight," or an actual activity: "I'm fixin' to go to the grocery store."
I'm doing the latter. Fixin' to pack my bags and head out of the hot and humid state of affairs that is Houston in August.
I heard a report on the radio the other day that recommended no reading, no watching, and no conversation to establish the fact that you are well and truly on vacation. Heaven help him, but that man sure got it all wrong. I'm going to read several good books, watch the sun set (and sleep through sunrise) and talk with my family. Can't imagine a good vacation without any of those.
Not that writers never really go on vacation.
No, we drag our work with us, even if we manage to leave our computer and files behind. That's because writers are always working. Listening. Letting the cadence of that dialect settle into our subconscious for when someone surprisingly unplanned but necessary walks onto the page and needs grounding for their place in the story. Observing. Both actual physical scenes embedded in our brains like a photo album, and emotional wear and tear to give our character's lives the depth they so richly deserve.
This tendency came home to me when I was finishing up the third book in my series. After I turned Shady Acres in to my editor, I rewarded myself with a class in Memoir Writing. One in-class writing assignment provided a sweet revelation.
Twenty years before I'd met a homeless man while out with girlfriends for lunch. "I was an engineer," he began as I turned away from his outstretched beggar's hand. His eyes, which at first had seemed as dead as those of the fish laid out on ice in the display case behind him, burned with an old remembered pride. I sat with him for an hour while my girlfriends grew increasingly worried about me and my choice to sit with this raggedy old man rather than shake him off and giggle with them. I didn't know then why I was so drawn to this man, or why I felt compelled to take the time to listen to his story.
Now I know. When I got the edits back for my book and reread what I'd written, I discovered something. The man I'd met way back when in the Lexington Market in Baltimore lent the anguish of his life to fuel my character Cal's anger. It made Cal real for me. I wonder if that man will even know what a gift he gave me that day by saying, "I was an engineer."
So when I'm on vacation this time, I'm not just fixin' to relax. I'm also going to pay attention. To read. To watch. And especially to listen.