In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’ve been thinking about my blessings a lot lately. I’ve decided that one of the things I am most grateful for is the fact that I’ve been able to travel a lot throughout my life.
There are a couple of different reasons for this. 1) I love seeing new places, 2) I think it’s important to see different cultures and perspectives in order to build charity and understanding for all of God’s children, and 3) each new place I see helps with my writing. I’m able to see new places that I can describe with authority, and they always, without fail, spark my imagination in a new way.
Obviously, you don’t have to travel in order to be an author. I get a lot of my inspiration from home too. It helps that I live in the Northwest, and it’s the most beautiful, most special, most amazing place on Earth, but you can always write straight from your imagination, even if you don’t live in Oregon or if you can’t or don’t want to travel.
But for me, travel has been imperative in developing my talents as a writer, and I’m very blessed to have had the opportunity to visit many wonderful places in my life. This month, I thought I’d share a list of just a few of my favorite spots, all of which have either intrigued my imagination, inspired settings for my stories, or helped me develop plots and characters in some way.
#1: Albany River Rhythms
Albany, Oregon hosts outdoor concerts along the banks of the Willamette River every summer. Oregon in general is a great place to people-watch, but it was at this particular concert that I was inspired to write one of the stories in my first novel, The First Year.
My husband and I had the opportunity to go to Hawaii this last summer (June 2012). It was a really fun trip, but I ended up writing a story about one of the more negative experiences we had there: kayaking. I wouldn’t have been able to write about it though unless I had experienced it, and I think I was able to adequately describe what it felt like to be out on the waves for the first time consequently.
#3: Opal Creek
Words cannot describe the beauty of this place. Oh, and that’s my husband! We went backpacking together, and then I spent the morning writing on a large rock that overlooked crystal-clear water, while Josh froze his feet off wading. I was able to capture the spirit of the woods a lot better than if I had written this particular scene from the comfort of my own home.
I know that the more you reach out and try to understand the world outside yourself, the more lives you will be able to touch through your writing. Reading about other places can help you understand the universal condition of the human spirit, but it’s even better to go to those places.