Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Travel and Recharging the Batteries

So I'm just back from two weeks wandering around the Canadian maritimes with friends. On one level it was a vacation, on another level it was very much a business trip. One of the most important things a writer can do is collect new experiences, ideas, images, and places that can be filtered and focused and used as grist for the mill of our work.

For me, travel is one of the most important ways to develop new ideas and scenes for works in progress and works yet to be, in part because I'm a world driven writer. On this trip I had two particularly fabulous visits that will be incorporated into future work, as will the whole trip over time. Oh, and I might get a bit of blog fodder as well, if you hadn't guessed.

First was a place called Woodleigh. It was one of those weird tourist attractions driven by an eccentric genius with intense focus. In this case it was a good sized parklike area studded with miniature versions of important British landmarks in varying scales, including a Tower of London big enough to walk through and a Westminster with doors only a few inches high but with two tons of lead used in the roofing. Fascinating and utterly bizarre, it will be a major and important setting for parts of WebMage book IV. In fact, the book will take place almost entirely in the Canadian Maritimes.

Second and even more important for me was Halifax and in particular, The Citadel—an 1850s era British fortress with a mix of kilted re-enactors and actual soldiers manning it. The place was fantastic and I literally couldn't move without getting story ideas. In all I collected scenes and ideas there for WebMage IV, The Eye of Horus, Outside In, and a new as yet untitled book to be written after I've got some free time again, maybe 2-3 years out at the current rate. I took well over a hundred pictures and made a number of short cryptic notes that tie back to big ideas for various stories. A lot of it needs to marinate in the back of my head for a while, especially the future Halifax book, but some of it will come out more immediately with WebMage IV and Eye of Horus.

So, how do you recharge? What refills your writing batteries? Or makes your story-brain kick in extra hard?


Anonymous said...

I go back home. I go trek around Corbin, Cumberland Falls, Cumberland Gap, and get my fill of Harlan County. If I'm not able to go there, I pull out my pictures - and I have tons.

Anonymous said...

Travel. Plain and simple, changing my surroundings and my energy level kicks me into a completely different gear. Last time I was in Florida (March 2007) I wrote about twenty hours worth of idea generation.

Erik Buchanan said...

I have to agree with travel. Also, sleep when I can get it, reading good books, swordfighting, and going out with friends.

All things that have been sorely lacking lately.

Kelly McCullough said...

Hi Mari,

I find the concept of going home to recharge an interesting one, as it's so far from my own experience. Mostly that's because I don't have a geographical concept of home. Home is where Laura is and we always travel together. Our house is where we store the cats and books and it's home too, but that's because of the contents rather than the location, if that makes any sense.

Hi, Erik,

leep is nice, or so I've heard.

Anonymous said...

Kelly, I've never really had "roots", not like "normal" people. Even so, the town where I grew up is still "home" - more so the places within it than the people. "Home" is more my husband and his parents - their home is more Home to me than any other place has ever been. Does that make sense?

Too, being able to touch the ground and breathe the air in those places helps shove me back into the energy and mentality of my stories. Harlan County has a very specific energy, and I like to think I've captured it, if not "well", then well enough that people have some understanding of what I'm trying to convey.

Stephanie Zvan said...

If I find my writing tapering off, it's time to do some reading. I'm such a process geek that I get most of my ideas while thinking about how story works. Reading good writing is better for recharging, but bad writing is better for ideas. It's those "No. No. No. Not like that. Like this." moments.