Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bess McBride- The Truth About Writing in an RV

Welcome Bess McBride, romance author and chronic traveler. I've been trying to catch up to you for a long time.

Now that I've got you here, tell me what it was like to write while living in an RV?
I thought it would be much easier than it actually was. When I first began writing, I had a house and an office of my own...with a door.  But when we sold the house, moved into the RV and hit the road, I found that I still felt the need for a "desk" to stay organized, so I used the dining table that is common in most RVs. However, that's not a particularly moveable item of furniture in a small space, so that meant I had to write in the living/dining/kitchen area. And I discovered I was only able to write when I was alone. What I did end up doing was scheduling my writing time for when I was alone and late at night after my significant other had gone to bed.

How long were you on the road?
I thought we were going to be on the road forever...that certainly was my plan. But in the second year of living and traveling on the road, the economy took a dive, and my significant other found it difficult to find work. Since neither of us is of a retirement age, I decided to give up the life, settle down again for a while and return to work full time, which I have. It's actually much, much more relaxing though I have little time for writing and promoting.

Since you worked as well as traveled, how did you balance your work, writing life, and promotion?
As part of the traveling life, I wanted to work for the National Park Service in a summer seasonal capacity and then "hang out" in a warm lovely climate near the beach in the winter. During my summer seasons at Glacier National Park, I took the late shift...that is...from 1 pm to 9 pm, and I was able to write in the mornings and late at night after my significant other went to bed. And I was able to write on my days off which were not the same as his.  It didn't do much for my love life, but I got a lot of writing done!  :-)  In the winters when I didn't need to work, I had all day to write and promote while my significant other worked his 40 hours a week. However, now that I've returned to a 40 hour, Monday through Friday work week myself, I am struggling for time.  :-)

What did you like best about being a traveling writer?

All the new experiences and places I saw that I was able to incorporate into my writing. Traveling keeps me from being stagnant.  I've traveled all my life, and I love traveling, though I'm thinking several trips a year should be enough for me!

What was a lot harder in an RV?
I wasn't able to write while we were actually on the road from one place to another. Just checking routes, looking for overnight accommodations, gas and food, and settling the pets every night was taxing enough.  I was exhausted at night, plus we like to go out and eat somewhere in the area we were in and drive around in our car for a bit to see the local sights.

On the road, did you do all your research online or did you have a "library?
One of the most important rules of traveling in an RV is to travel light to keep gas prices down and stay within the maximum weight limits of the RV. I stored most of my books, even those on writing, in storage. I did have some books with me, but not as many as I would like.  And in an RV, there really isn't any spare space for a bookshelf. I did most of my research on line, and in fact, I still do. My only writing books are generally "how to write" books.

What's your advice for writers who want to take off in an RV for a life of writing?
The most important thing to know is that unless a writer is already successful (which means different things to different people), but in this case, I'll define it as able to pay their bills and rent and gas and insurance with their advances and royalties, I would suggest that they have another way to make a living. I've only met a few people who traveled and wrote, and those folks were retired and had independent incomes. I have a small income as a retired military member, so that allowed me to pay my bills.

The other thing to know is that internet coverage is spotty on the road. Many RV parks may not even offer wireless connections, and if they do, I found they often were unreliable.  I always had a back-up modem on my phone to tether my computer to, although it is dial up. I've had to use it many, many times during my RV traveling days.
I'm settled in an apartment now and enjoying the thrill of flushing a toilet and an office of my own.I might tackle RV living again in the future when I make more in retirement, but until then, a cruise to the Caribbean or a tour of Europe might just be what I need to keep my traveling toes warmed up!

Thank you so much for the interview, Amber!!!

Bess McBride was born in Aruba to American parents and lived in Venezuela until her family returned to the United States when she was 12. She couldn't fight the global travel bug within her and joined the U.S. Air Force at 18 to "see the world." After 21 wonderful and fulfilling years traveling the world and gaining one beautiful daughter, she pursued her dream of finally getting a college education. Armed and over-educated, the gypsy in her took over once again, and she embarked on a full-time journey in a recreational vehicle to look for new adventures and place settings for her writing. She is the author of On a Warm Sea of Love, A Train through Time, A Sigh of Love, Caribbean Dreams of Love, and A Trail of Love. A Penny for Your Thoughts is due out in 2010.

Visit Bess McBride's website
Leave a Comment 
for a chance to win a .pdf of 
On a Warm Sea of Love!


  1. Bess--so, your biggest thrill is flushing a toliet? Dear girl,you need to get out more! (That was a joke.) I enjoyed your RV blog you used to have--I read that every day and loved the photos.Will you ever go back to RV living? Later--Celia

  2. Hi Bess,
    Looks like you were able to stay focused on writing throughout your moving around. That's great. So many folks get a book out and don't do much else. I really enjoy the beach-themed covers of your books. And I'm glad you're happy about where you're living now. That really makes a lot of difference in how you feel about yourself.
    Hugs my friend!

  3. Hi Bess,
    Hoep this finds you well my friend.
    Ooh a flushing toilet, marvelous the things we take for granted. Travelling must have been so interesting, I love travel myself, but it is nice to have permanent place to call home. You amaze me, I don't know how you were ever able to fit in all your writing,traveling and working.


  4. Thanks for sharing your experiences in an RV! My husband would love for us to go on the road and I've wondered how it would effect my writing.

  5. Hi Bess,
    My husband retires in a couple of years and he's talking about hitting the road as well. While the idea is appealing, I can see that it has its drawbacks, especially to writing. You've given me some additional things to consider.


  6. What a fun stroy! I love it. Goes to show we can write when we want when we're determined. In fact, it is abviously an inspirtation.
    Carolyn Howard-Johnson
    Tweeting writing tips @frugalbookpromo

  7. Thank you for stopping by, Celia! I'm hoping to go back to the RVing life when I'm of retirement age...if there's any left over for me!

    Bess McBride

  8. Maggie! It's so good to hear from you! Thank you for stopping by! Hugs back to you!

  9. Margaret! It's lovely to hear from you! I do think it's better to have a permanent place from which to launch!


  10. Thank you, Heather! It's often the men who dream about RVing, and the women who wonder if they can be away from their children and grandchildren that long! I'll admit to finding it difficult once my granddaughter presented herself!


  11. Hi Jana!

    Thanks for stopping by Amber's blog. Yes, writing on the road can have it's drawbacks, but there are some very special couples who collaborate in their efforts, and that seems to suceed!


  12. Hi Carolyn!

    Thanks for stopping by. I must check out your book Tweeting Tips! I need all the social tips I can get!


  13. My apologies for the delay in picking the winner of the free pdf of On A Warm Sea of Love. I've been overly concerned about some skin treatment for all my years in the sun!

    And the winner is......Heather Hiestand! I picked by closing my eyes and scrolling up and down! Neat huh! I'll contact you directly!

    Thanks so much for having me, Amber!