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July 24, 2011

This post is pretty much a followup of the last post in a lot of ways.

For the past week, my boyfriend’s Nashville-based family has been visiting us up here in Washington.  We spent a few days over at the Olympic Peninsula hiking through the temperate rainforest and investigating tidepool-pocked beaches.  Lately we’ve been touring the general Seattle area.

Now, I don’t make a very good tour guide.  First of all, I hate being a tourist.  I don’t like touristy activities.  If I’m going to explore a new place (or rediscover an old one), I like to mosey about, take my time, soak in the atmosphere, blend in.  I don’t like taking pictures in front of sculptures or following rigorously structured itineraries where we bounce from one attraction to another as though experiencing the city was some sort of high-stakes scavenger hunt.  I totally understand that approach, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not for me.

Second, I grew up in the Pacific Northwest.  As a matter of fact, I grew up right in the heart of the Redwood Coast, in a valley surrounded by mountains thick with evergreens.  I’ve also now lived in the Seattle area for a few years now.  Though I hadn’t been to all of the places we visited, many of the sights were not new to me.  So it was hard for me to be as enthusiastic about the adventure as the rest of the party.

That said, I adore my boyfriend’s family, and the visit was still a very positive experience for me.  And yes, this does relate to writing.

Getting away from everything helps you reset.  Being in a new environment forces you to re-adjust your world view.  Even a day’s retreat can be mentally and emotionally healing.

As I touched on in my last post, location can greatly influence your writing.  If you are in a place that doesn’t really inspire you, and you’re going through the same routine every day, it will show in your work.  And not just in the writing itself.

Strolling along the forest paths I found myself thinking about certain plot points I had planned in an entirely new way.  I got new ideas that went in a different direction than anything I had come up with before.  I drastically changed one of my characters.  I picked details apart, nudged bits of fluff around, played with things a bit.  I felt almost like a new person looking at the rough sketch of my story for the first time, eager to provide some feedback.

I also considered my previous thoughts on finding a writing sanctuary.  Suddenly, a coffee shop didn’t seem like enough.  Seattle has parks, boardwalks, beaches, marinas.  I found myself missing northern California, and the quiet journeys I used to take along the secluded hiking trails through the forest.  I liked the sound of water lapping against the docks, people chattering, boat horns blaring.

In a coffee shop I could write a book, but surely here, under the trees, by the water, I could write a masterpiece.

I felt kind of like a new person.  Like I was a child reading through a really good book for the first time and deciding that one day she would write her own book.

If you’ve never been to the Pacific Northwest, something is missing from your life.  It has a very specific beauty that is hard to find anywhere else.  I could spend days telling you about the coast, or the trees that are so high you have to crane your neck to see the tops, the art, the spirit… I could write a book and you still wouldn’t understand.  If you want a taste, read The Ancient One by T.A. Barron.  It’s a young adult book and the plot is a little silly, but I tell you what, every time I read it I want to move to a cabin in Oregon.  As I turn the pages I almost feel like I’m there.  But even though books can take us new places, it’s not the same as really being there.  You need to go there.  You need to see it.

And when you go, take a notebook.  Don’t go on one of the main hiking trails (it’s very hard to feel creatively inspired when a family with a wailing baby is just around the corner complaining about the mosquitoes), but find yourself a sanctuary, sit down, breathe in, and let your imagination run wild.

If you want to write about adventures, go on one.

  1. You are always so helpful! I def love this blog 🙂

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  1. Young Adult Fiction « writingatmidnight

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