I’m thinking about time, as I always do when I’m on this island. I’ve spent as much of my summers here as possible over the past 30 years, and in all that time, some things have changed but much hasn’t. Every now and again a favourite shop or bakery closes or a new one opens up. Some summers see more or less sugar snap peas, earlier or later tomatoes. But I think what changes the most from year to year is me.

Staying here for the summer means I’m not really on vacation, but rather I’ve just moved my life from one continent to another. There were many summers when my days were organized around trips to camp instead of trips to school, and late afternoon visits to the beach instead of music lessons. Sure, very different, very summery — but still, the life of a stay-at-home mom, with me squeezing in stolen moments to write whenever I could.

But now my life is all about work rather than childrearing (not that that isn’t work!), and with that comes its own time constraints. My mornings are struggles between writing and email correspondence, my afternoons full of decisions about which chores I really have to do, and which I can put off. But hey, I’m sitting here typing this in my bathing suit, and I’m thinking, after my 3.00 conference call I just may well make it to the beach.

One rediscovery of this working summer, though, is the joys of my writing shack. I had it built — or rather divided out of the garden shed — several years ago, and for a while I was in there all the time. But for the past few years, now that I don’t have a houseful of kids hanging around, I’ve neglected it, choosing to write in the quiet air conditioning of my house instead. But this summer, real estate craziness back home plus trying to set up two new book tours for next year has made my otherwise peaceful home a horror of ringing telephones and dinging computer in-boxes. So I’ve been going back into my shack — and I’m loving it.

In past years my shack was solely an escape. This year, though, as I’m writing the first draft of novel three, it’s a sort of transporter. It gives me a place where I am able to transport myself from the relative affluence of the American east coast, to the troubled poverty of last year’s Cambodia. I walk into the shack, stare into space for a few minutes and then — poof — I’m there. And then the next thing I know, two hours have gone by. How lucky am I to have it! And I wonder, do other writers need specific places to go to in order to be transported, or can some of us do it simply in our own heads? I’d love to hear from you…