Will Travel For Words: Writing About Life by Karen A. Chase
I’ve had jammed-packed weekends, guests visiting, and a few weeknight excursions over the last few weeks. Each time I engage in these moments, I hear it. That voice. If you’re a writer, you’ve probably heard it, too.
“Shouldn’t you be writing? Editing?” It screeches. “That novel isn’t going to write itself, ya know.”
To me, that voice sounds a bit like George Costanza’s mom from Seinfeld. Nagging at me. Filled with sarcasm. So shrill it makes my shoulders curl away from her. Every party I attend she stands about a foot away whispering her disapproval.
After all, a writer is supposed to write. Right? Accountants don’t balance books at a party. Lawyers don’t litigate at luncheons (okay maybe they do and some will bill you for it). In order for me to put food on the table, I have to write something that sells. So every moment spent away from writing means I’m one more word away from starvation. Or am I?
Publishers say that real life is what readers relate to the most. When I look back over photos from what I did these last few weeks, what I see are examples of real life. Here’s a small sample of what I witnessed on my short tours.
Wedding, Virginia Beach:
A handsome Indian man rode across an airplane museum tarmac upon a white horse. He wore red. Behind him was a yellow 1930s de Havilland bi-plane. He greeted his lovely German bride, her curly copper hair tucked with roses. Their families melded and danced around them dressed in vibrant Indian saris.
Some moments simply feel like a dream.
My partner’s parents celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary with all their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren noisily clustered in one Italian restaurant. These were the two best comments:
“Please no one give a toast for another 70! Once around is enough.”
“Look at the people–all this love and family from just two of us.”
These lines were spoken by the same 92-year old woman sitting next to her husband. Sometimes life is bitter sweet.
James River, Virginia:
I have visited plantation homes along the river, but only from the road. Last week I took a cruise down the James River and at last saw them from the water. We floated past an eagle’s nest high overhead in the Cypress trees. Trees with knees jutting up from the water. A three-foot eel slithered by and winked. Then, I saw it. The massive, yet welcoming façade of the plantation springing up from among the distant oaks. It broke up the monotonous green banks with red bricks that shimmered and glowed like the sunset.
How could I ever have written that correctly before?
Cap2Cap Bike Race, Virginia
I biked 25 miles in about two and a half hours. I felt my legs turn to jelly at the same time I crossed the finish line with my five riding companions–all my dear, dear friends.
A person can both ache and rejoice in the end.
While away from the pages, I saw new colors. I witnessed new perspectives. My little excursions gave me real life exchanges, sights, sounds, smells, tastes (ohhh, that Italian Tiramisu).
If I expand my knowledge, my own life, I expand my awareness and therefore my writing improves. So go away Mrs. Costanza. Take your orange hair and your wagging finger, and let me live. Sometimes I have to travel for words, so I never run out of them.
Karen A. Chase is a regular contributor to Shelf Pleasure, sharing journeys near and far in the pursuit of stories and novels in her monthly feature, Will Travel for Words. She is the author of Bonjour 40: A Paris Travel Log, winner of seven Independent Book Publishing Awards for travel and design. She is currently working on an historical novel set during the American Revolution. Find Karen on Facebook, or on Twitter.
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