I had a nice spontaneous visit with a cousin the other day. Unusual for me. I don't get out much.
When my writing's going well, I lose track of time. I spend hours in front of my PC, or sitting with a notebook on my lap, getting words down. Even when I go out to an appointment or planned event, I'm anxious to get back to my writing. When I'm away, I feel like I'm slighting my Muse and to get revenge, she'll go catch a bus for Vegas or something.
When my writing's not going well, I feel like I ought to chain myself to my desk chair until I produce something. Even after my left brain overcomes the guilt and gets me out of the room, I usually don't go farther than to work in the garden or take a walk or grab a snack. Again, I feel like I don't want to be away if my Muse shows up ready to work.
Lately, the only times I've traveled farther afield is for grocery shopping and other necessary errands (which I try to do only one or two days a week, to save gas and carbon emissions). In this economy, vacations are few and far between. In the long run, though, I know this is counterproductive to writing. My best ideas are seldom found close to home or while staring at a computer monitor. Routine errands are, well, routine, with nothing to make me stop and say, "That needs to go into a book."
The latest novel in the Possessed Mystery Series, FEAR ITSELF, is set in my hometown. I was a bit wary of setting it there, in so familiar a setting. One's own backyard is rarely a place of discovery and a good story is, at its core, one person saying to another, "Listen to what I just found out." I purposefully went around my town "visiting" places I'd been to before, snooping here and there, seeing things I hadn't noticed before. For the Montgomery Cemetery chapters, I took several tours of the place, learning lots of history, legends, and terrific grave-robbing tales. I was especially grateful to our historic society for their moonlight tour of the cemetery last year so I could make my night scenes in the old burial ground authentic. The photo at the top of this blog is from that graveyard.
If anyone reading this is within driving distance of Montgomery Cemetery in Norristown, PA, they've got a tour scheduled on Sunday, June 26th at 2 pm, and a concert of Civil War songs on June 12th at 2 pm, to kick off the Civil War Sesquicentennial. For more information, click here.
As for me, I know I need to get out and visit places and people more, to keep my writing fresh. This month, that includes being a guest on other mystery blogs as well. Here are the links if you want to check them out.
Buried Under Books Blog: Don't Know Much About History
Maria Lima: Ignoring the One-Way Signs
I'll be at the "Birth of a Novel" blog next week and will post the link on a future blog.