Thursday, October 22, 2009

Finding Inspiration in Your Own Back Yard

Monday I left work early for a doctor’s appointment, traveling on the Little Easy bus to my second bus near Harrah’s Casino in New Orleans. I lifted my eyes off the page of the book I was reading and peered out of the window. Café Dumond in the French Quarters was crowded, horses and buggies lined up for blocks outside of the Saint Louis Cathedral waiting to take people on tours, the sidewalk merchants were out and busy, and there were people everywhere. The sun shone bright in the sky and it was a beautiful autumn day. But the first thought was why are all these people out having fun were and why aren’t they at work? My second thought was why in the heck aren’t you writing this down and using it as a scene in your story? I quickly took out my pen and pad and tried to write down everything I saw.

I have been living in this city all my life but I very seldom get out and visit all the great tourist attractions New Orleans is famous for. I ate my first muffalata in Houston, Texas during the Hurricane Katrina evacuation and it wasn’t until I returned that I learned that it was created in New Orleans. A couple of years ago I visited Ripley’s Believe It Or Not in Florida, and had to be told by one of the clerks that we also had a Ripley’s in New Orleans. I’ve been to Café Dumond once even though I pass it everyday going to and from work. I’ve never been to the Aquarium, IMAX or the Bug Museum. In the beginning I did write about New Orleans but it wasn’t easy writing about vampires in my home town when Anne Rice had done it so well.

When I was first began practicing my craft almost every how-to book warned not to go outside of your own back yard to find settings. I couldn’t drive; I didn’t like to travel, so that part was easy enough. But over the last couple of years I have been traveling. I like to ride the train or the Greyhound Bus. While riding I’m looking out of the windows trying to find that perfect scene or inspiration. When I visit some place interesting I like to incorporate it into my stories. I have written about New York, Egypt and hell, and I’ve never been to these places and probably never will, but I’ve done my research and try to capture a little aspects of the city to make the story believable.

The moral behind this story is take your head out of the book some times and see what’s going on around you. You’ll be surprised to find what you might be missing.

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