A couple weeks ago, my middle child and I took a trip to Disneyland and California Adventure where we spent several magical days enjoying special experiences, great food, and each other’s company. Having my youngest child and her husband and two kids with us for part of the time only enhanced the experience. The photo below, taken from Mickey’s Fun Wheel, looks out over Disneyland to the east and the mountains beyond and gives you some idea of just how gorgeous a winter day in southern California can be.
One of the best parts about getting away from normal day-to-day life is being able to see the world in a new light – and that’s always good for the writing process. The drive down and back, while somewhat familiar from previous trips, changes each time we travel that way and that often spurs interesting story ideas. The way the sky looks and the air feels is different than at home and which is refreshing to the sensory memory. Coming across people we’ve never seen before (and probably will never see again) can inspire character creation. Plus, visiting an amusement park often brings out extreme feelings from terror to exhaustion that can be mined for future stories. Not to mention the fact that actual writing can be done during the enforced confinement of the long car trip.
The return home to my own small community after spending time in the big city gave me a chance to look at the familiar in a somewhat different light, too. The sky is a paler shade of blue at our higher elevation than the warm golden tones I associate to the LA basin. The mountains are much closer to us here than they are in the valley down there. The air is thinner and colder than the heavy humid air to the south and our smaller population means we have less smog. We also don’t have as much light pollution so the stars are brighter and clearer in my home town than what’s visible beyond the endless lights of the metropolis. Most of the trees up here in the north look skeletal now, devoid of their summer greenery, and we have a lot less vegetation overall due to our high desert climate, while sunny southern California is ripe with flowers, fruit and palm trees, and thick green grasses. While I enjoyed my time away from home, I’m always happy to come back again.
After a short week back at work I took a second trip out of town, this time for business. Again, I traveled south…to fabulous Las Vegas. A co-worker and I flew down in the morning and returned on an evening flight so the experience was quite a bit different than my day-long drives of the previous week. Again, I saw many unfamiliar people, but this time I also met up with people I know from the work environment. Since we weren’t vacationing, we didn’t get to enjoy the more glamorous aspects of Sin City, but spent our day in a generic conference room taking notes, drinking coffee and eating rich pastries, and discussing some pretty in-depth technical issues. Though my day job is not writing-related, I do get quite a bit of inspiration from the work I do, and this trip was no different on that front. Some of the ideas discussed during our training might someday serve as background detail for one of my romance novels; just a sprinkle of dry material here and there to add texture without causing the plot to thicken too much, so to speak.
Las Vegas is much different from both my home and the Los Angeles area so being in the three locations in such a short span of time is stirring my imagination in new ways. January is often a depressing let-down period for me after the holiday season, but I didn’t feel that way at all this year, and I believe the work I do in the next few months will be richer for the experiences I’ve had over the past few weeks. While I’m more of a homebody than a world traveler, getting away has been just what I needed to help me settle back into my writing routine with fresh eyes and renewed excitement.