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Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Live It - Then Write About It

*I initially posted this on my Living Writers' Collective blog, but I think My Writing Loft friends will enjoy this message, too.*

This past June, my kids and I disappeared deep into the Allegheny Mountains in West Virginia for a week. In our log cabin in this remote part of West Virginia, there was no Internet or television, no cell phone access or landline telephone, and no air conditioning or microwave.

I love shedding off life's modern-day conveniences and getting cozy with nature - the bugs, the creatures that slither, the nocturnal explorers, the deer, the bears, the birds, the giant river turtles, and the frogs that are twice as big as my hand and whose sweet tunes lull me to sleep at night. I've always been a tomboy, and I still love exploring the forest floor for animal tracks, seeing how far a millipede can climb my bare arm, and catching (or trying to catch - I'm not as good at it now as I was when I was a kid) slimy frogs.

During this trip, I learned a few new things:

  • Spotting the twenty-third deer is equally as fascinating as spotting the first one.

  • Bear feces looks suprisingly similar to human feces.

  • Spiders and crickets will seek shelter in your toiletries case.

  • The mystery of the unexplainable loose dirt that keeps appearing in your bed will be solved on the last day when you realize you've been sharing your bed with a raccoon all week.

  • The lack of modern-day conveniences/distractions will bring out the best in seven- and five-year-old boys.

  • If your child has a loose front tooth, take him innertubing a few times. Hayden's tooth now rests somewhere in the Greenbrier River.

  • Kroger-bought pears taste fresher in the woods.

  • If you wake to the sounds of a curious bear in the middle of the night, when - if - you go back to sleep, it is inevitable that you will dream you are being attacked by a bear.

  • Around day four, you'll start to wonder if anything major has happened in the world - like has our government been overthrown? Has California fallen into the ocean? Has the rapture occurred and I wasn't one of the selected? But then a deer and her fawn will leap by your cabin, and you'll decide it doesn't really matter what's going on in the crazy world outside these woods.

Last year, this same trip to West Virginia inspired me to write a short story called "Death of a Whippoorwill". I received an honorable mention in the 2009 Silver Quill Short Fiction Contest for that story. I want to encourage you all to find a special place, at least once a year, where you can disappear from your distractions and absorb inspiration for your writing. Don't go with the plan to write; go with the plan to explore and observe and enjoy. Live it - then write about it.

For me, getting as close to nature as possible seems to do the trick. For you, it may be something else, but whatever it is, make the effort to do it. Living it will flood you with ideas and inspire poignant messages through writing that shines.

Have you had a chance to "Live It" this past year? If so, tell us where you go to dissappear from your distractions and absorb the inspiration to write.


  1. Warren Baldwin said...

    I loved this post! Did you actually see some bear? I love bears and mountain lions (and I'll bet you have some of them up there, too).

    I escaped to a Bible camp in the mtns of Montana. I had teaching responsibilities in the morning, but lots of free time in the afternoon to enjoy nature.

    Great post.

  2. Shauna Renee' said...

    Hi Karen! Loved this post, and love the picture. We are escaping for a couple days to southern Missouri--tubing, river, trees, no internet. (We are in a place with plumbing, however.) We go to regroup, spend time away, and just veg.