Monday, 19 February 2018

The Importance of Downtime for Writers and Discovering New Books…

The East Coast of Newfoundland
In August 2017, one of the trips on my bucket list was checked off. Along with my hubby, son and his significant other, my brother and his wife, we headed out to Newfoundland for a week of fun, sun, and relaxation. Okay, so there was some sun, and the weather wasn’t too bad (glad I packed pants and a warm coat), but the experience proved to be unforgettable. It’s true what they say about Newfoundlanders. They’re friendly, accommodating, warm, and welcoming! Especially on George Street in St. John’s…

I’ve written about why writers need R&R before, and you can read that post HERE. Taking breaks between your writing projects and tasks is so important for writers. It gives your brain time to slow down, and quit thinking about what’s on your writer’s to-do list next. It’s important to recharge and take some time away from the keyboard, and I did just that when I went to visit Canada’s Rock.

Getting Screeched-In at Christian's Pub on George Street
Among the things we did were whale watching (what a treat!) and seeing the too-many-to-count puffins dive-bomb us in the excursion boat. We also went hunting for the last iceberg on the east coast and managed to find it, though it seemed a shadow of its former self. And the scenery! Well, it truly is breath-taking! I can only imagine what greeted the Vikings when they discovered this carbon copy of their homeland. Most of us got screeched-in (makes you an honorary Newfoundlander) through a special ceremony that you get to kiss a cod fish and drink a shot of screech. Still cringing.

I was lucky enough to meet a fellow author at the Inn we were staying at, and we conversed about the joys and perils of publishing. The author’s name is Andrew Peacock and he is a bit of a celebrity around Newfoundland. Now a retired veterinarian, Andrew wrote about his adventures (and misadventures) being the only veterinarian for miles around. Originally from Ontario, Andrew figured he and his wife, Ingrid would only be staying in Newfoundland briefly. Turns out he was wrong about the duration, and three decades later he and his wife still live on the Rock. Curious as to Andrew’s story, I bought a signed hardcover book, Creatures of the Rock, and immersed myself into his world. It was the perfect pick for the downtime I needed, and many of the places he mentions, I got to visit firsthand. So, I thought I’d share this gem with you.

About the book:

When you’re the only veterinarian in an area that’s 130 miles long and has a coast on either side, you never know what each new day might bring. A cow giving birth, a colicky horse, an aggressive lynx, caribou in need of pastures new, a polar bear in a bingo hall, a six-hundred-pound boar who won’t like what you’ve been asked to do to him… The only constants for Andrew Peacock are his faithful dog and his passion for his work.

When Andrew Peacock made the move from Ontario to Newfoundland, he thought he was kicking off his career as a newly qualified veterinarian with a brief adventure in a novel location. Turns out he was wrong about the duration—he is still in Newfoundland three decades later.  But it has certainly been an adventure. A whole series of adventures.

In his immense new practice—half the Avalon Peninsula—Andrew was the only vet for miles around, visiting patients (and their owners) on farms, in homes and zoos, and in the wild. 
A day’s work could include anything from performing a Caesarian section on a cow in a blizzard, to pursuing a moose on the loose, to freeing a humpback whale from a trap designed for cod. And, on the human side, anything from trying to impress a surprisingly large audience of farmers with your first boar castration, to taking care of the distressed owners of a stricken cat, to discouraging farm hands from helping themselves to hypodermic needles.
All this against the background of a domestic scene in which Andrew's wife Ingrid—also freshly qualified, as a “human doctor”—shares the adventure of making a new life, fitting in to a well-established community, and in due course of starting a family.

Andrew Peacock is a born vet, devoted to the care of animals, and in constant wonder as an observer of their lives.  Luckily for the rest of us, he is a born storyteller, too. Creatures of the Rock is a funny, thrilling, unflinching but ultimately heartwarming collection of tales about the connections between people and animals, and people with each other.

Sounds like an interesting read, right? In a way, Peacock’s novel is reminiscent of the book, All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot. Incidentally, Herriot started writing his books when he was fifty, and penned fifteen books in the time that he could wrest away from his practice. They sold 50 million copies in 20 countries. But he continued his veterinary practice long after his books made him famous, and once said, “If a farmer calls me with a sick animal, he couldn’t care less if I were George Bernard Shaw.” I truly believe Mr. Peacock is in good company here.

If you’re an animal lover, I urge you to pick up either Andrew Peacock’s memoir, or check out James Herriot’s wonderfully written books that also spawned a long-running television series. Although my novel, Lost and Found is about a teenager possessing the psychic ability to talk to animals, my hope is that it brings awareness to the plight and needs of animal shelters, sanctuaries, and rescues everywhere. Have you ever discovered a great book or met an interesting author while on vacation or taking some downtime? Would love to read your input and comments. Cheers, and thank you for spending time with me by reading my blog!


  1. You look like you are having fun!

    1. I sure did, Chris. Kissing the cod wasn't that bad. Wink. Cheers!

  2. That looks like a cold fish, Sharon! WINK!

    1. Cold and smelly, Helen and Lorri! But that screech made everything okay! LOL! Cheers!

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks, Andrew! We sure did! Beautiful province, wonderful people!

  4. I have yet to visit Newfoundland but have heard it is a great experience! Creatures of the Rock sounds like a great read too. Do you know that the James Harriot (not his real name) vet practise is still in operation?

    1. If you go, make sure you get screeched in, Darlene! Yes, his real name was James Alfred Wight. He died in 1995, but I didn't know his practice is still going. Cheers and thanks for stopping by!