I need to get out more.
Not just for my own well being, for fun, or for a vacation or anything like that. It’s for my writing. When I put it like that, it just sounds like a big excuse for going somewhere, doesn’t it?
But…because the characters in my novels aren’t going to be living and interacting with each other right here where I’m living and working, it’s important that I accurately describe the places where their stories take place. And, though I’ve moved around a lot, and had the opportunity to see a large number of unique areas, it helps to have a refresher on the details that I haven’t seen in far too long. At least in my mind – justification made.
Fortunately I do have a writer’s memory and everything from the past seems to stick in some part of my mind – even the parts that I’d probably prefer to forget. It’s all there to be pulled out, either when it’s needed, or to show up unwanted. They’re all usable in writing though. But there’s just something about actually being there in some of those places you remember and experiencing them again that can inspire on a whole other level.
The last time I went back to the town that I called home as I grew up, I took a number of pictures from around the area. Places that I saw most every day as I was going to school and wishing my way out of that town are now more important than ever and valuable for me to be able to picture again. It’s small town America. It’s Midwestern values and main streets. And many things that are part of that town would fit for different locales in future scenes. And taking in as many details as possible, and refreshing all of those memories, can only help for years to come.
It’s not just home though, but everywhere that I’ve been. I can vividly remember sitting by the edge of Lake Cadillac, watching the fireworks explode over the still water on a particular fourth of July. I can picture my last game at Wrigley Field and watching the Cubs lose in extra innings as I sat in damp clothes caused by a half hour rain delay. I can feel the breeze as I walk around Lake Harriet on a late summer day, and hear the sounds of bicyclists as they called out to pass on the left as we would follow the trail. They’re great places and great memories I can always draw upon. But I’d still like to go back and experience things again to completely freshen up the memory.
Either that or check out Vegas, the coast of Maine, London or the Caribbean… Places I’ve yet to see. I don’t think I have any future scenes from a planned novel going on anyplace like that though. Hmm…maybe it has nothing to do with writing after all. Maybe I just need a vacation.
But for now, Graham wants to go outside. So we’ll take a walk down to the creek and wander over to the edge of the woods. And I’ll take in the warm air, the cool breeze, the smell of fresh-cut grass and the sight of the setting sun and the rising moon as they pass each other in the sky. And I’m sure there are plenty of places in the novel for things like that…