Hey all! First, an apology for being gone so long. It wasn’t intentional by any means. To explain, my processor decided to stop working correctly and I had to send it in for repair. I got on my backup old man laptop, but he wasn’t having it. Then! Theeeen! I cut a six inch gash in my foot and couldn’t walk, much less set up my 47lb desktop when it was returned to me. So here we are! Now, the reason I mention this is because I learned a lesson. Well, I think I already knew this lesson, but it was always in the back of my mind. I never put much thought into it.
Writing is life. I don’t mean live, eat, breathe, and sleep writing, but that writing is best reflected from real life experiences. I learned, with the gash on my foot, procedure, how stitches and cleaning are done, as well as what it’s like to live with the itching, and bandage changing and many other activities that go into wound care. I’ve never had surgery, luckily, so this was a new experience for me.
It got me thinking. I always hear about writers who go to expensive and foreign getaways to get inspiration and write their next best selling novel. The jealous little rodent inside of me always found it silly. I thrive creatively when I’m in a boring dump! But really, of course I would write in a castle in Europe if given the chance. There are options for those of us who find ourselves in a cramped apartment in the city or a big house in the middle of the desert.
Now, of course I don’t recommend going out and getting yourself hurt like I did, but what can we do to learn about experiences to better portray them in our writing? I know there are already writer’s resources galore. Such as, a book on police procedures and a book on poisons. Of course written resources are amazing and should be used often, but sometimes it takes more than that. Go exploring-online. Or in a book. Go to your local bookstore and pick up one of those large coffee table books you always thought pretty but could never justify the price when you don’t even own a coffee table. Watch movies. Buy traveling guides. Does your story take place in Seattle but you’ve never been? Get a travel guide to Seattle. Go to DeviantArt and peruse the backgrounds and scenes for inspiration. Write down your dreams! I do everyday when I wake up. You never know what you’ll use. I have used scenes from my own dreams in my book Dragon Bloode: Covet.
And of course don’t neglect people. If you’ve never experienced a broken bone, why not ring up your cousin Suze and ask her what she recalls? After the cut on my foot, my dad asked me, “Has it started itching yet?” I had no idea. Oh man did I have no idea! Only someone who’d had a large incision or wound would think to ask. Not to say that we can’t look up medical guides on the matter and discover it for ourselves, but it’s far more colorful and entertaining to have your father regale the sagas of his various injuries over the phone than Times New Roman at one in the morning doing your best zombie impression. With the internet at our beck and call, why not go into a forum or find a pen pal/Skype buddy who lives where your story takes place? They could not only describe everything, but take pictures for you. Perhaps even do a Skype call and you can direct them how you wish if possible. Plus, you’ve made a new friend!
No matter where you live, there is something to inspire around you. I live in a desert. The land is flat and the sky is oppressing and large. You can use your surroundings to explore the opposition. When I look out my living room window to the field of wild flowers and weeds (that is if it’s rained at all and they’re not brown brush mulling around over dirt in the hot wind), I imagine a thick forest where I can’t even glimpse the sun. If you live in a tiny apartment in the city, what about that country house overlooking rolling hills in your mind? Inspiration can be found all around us, don’t spend all of it at the computer. Writing is life, and in living life your writing will improve. A lot of famous writers lived by this motto. Hemingway explored the wilds and Fitzgerald went to extravagant parties. Those who used mundane surroundings to conjure fantastical places are J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien.
We can’t all get away to foreboding castles and sunny cottages in the glen, but we can all make use of our own experiences and the experiences of those around us. Now, if you need someone to describe to you in great detail how it felt to have sheet metal slice the side of their foot open and the process following, you know who to ask.