Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Priming the mental pump

I'm sitting in my overpriced, beachfront hotel room. It's clean and in an overall nice resort, part of a national chain, but it has the feel of a horse that's been "rode hard and put up wet." The in-room guest information book brags that Alan Shepard and John Glenn's families stayed here while they were training for the moon shot. I'm guessing they stayed in this very room. Mind you, I'm not complaining. I'm 100 yards from the Atlantic Ocean, and the daytime temp hasn't dropped below 70. Three days in, and my skin is tight, just past medium-well, but not burnt. Yet.

In a previous blog, I talked about how I'm always mentally writing. Several times in the last couple of days I've been inspired to mentally write whole scenes, and I've longed to have my laptop in front of me. Ironically, it was the very act of getting away from my computer and my cozy writing space that inspired those scenes.

We travelled two-thirds of the way down last Friday night. In order to get my high school baseball player to the rendezvous point by the appointed time, we had to get up at the butt crack of dawn on Saturday. It was still dark when we left our hotel room and hit I-95. The three teenage boys in the car with me ate their greasy, fast-food breakfast sandwiches and fell promptly back to sleep. I was alone with my thoughts and the road. (Bruce is in the midst of spring football, and stayed home.)

That first hour on the road was almost magical. It poured the day before and into the night, but the rain stopped in the hours before dawn. A thin mist hung in the gnarled trees that dominate the marshes of coastal South Carolina and Georgia. The setting begged for a mysterious, frightening, maybe even romantic encounter. The characters in my stories live in darkness, and I watched the day break with them in mind. The dawn did not come in a brilliant wash of sunshine to the east. It came in degrees. Light sifted gradually, almost insidiously into the darkness, turning the black sky into ever lighter shades of gray. The night clung to the trees, pulling the fog close to the earth, but inevitably, the day won, and an orange shaft of light broke through the gray mist.

My hero would have found it beautiful and deadly, and I engaged in world-building as I drove, answering the question of how much of the dawn's early light he could survive. The scene I mentally wrote will find its way into a story at some point as will my walk on the beach Sunday night. I will save that for another blog. Right now the day awaits. It's a bit overcast, but overcast and 80 in Florida is better than cold and wet in Kentucky. I've quit worrying about word count while I'm on vacation. The well will be deep and the pump primed when I finally get back to my WIP.

1 comment:

  1. I can never get enough of your beautiful writing. Just your description of the dawn put that scene in my head!