So, another busy weekend. I'm excited for summer, because, technically, things should calm down then. I'll believe it when it happens.
As it were, this weekend took me several hundred miles from my home turf. The climate and ecology in this place are very different than the place where I grew up and it reminded me of an early part of my literary career.
And by early, I mean, just starting to read 'grown-up' novels when I was thirteen or so. Books like Lord of the Rings. I was big fan of science-fiction/fantasy books. Most kids I knew were into that genre at that age. I still love me a good dragon book, but I was enamored at the particular time especially. (PS, I still love dragons. If I could have anything in the entire universe, it would be a dragon. I think this is why I ride motorcycles. As close as you can get to flying with actually flying and/or expensive skydiving.)
Taking this trip, I remembered a problem I had with all those fantasy, epic adventure books. Where I grew up and where I live now are heavily forested. I used to have a big problem when the books talked about 'moving silently through the trees' or 'tracking' or and other sort of stealthy movement through the woods.
It is impossible to move silently anywhere through any undergrowth where I live. If it isn't a trail, you can't pass through without sounding like a herd of deer crashing around. And deer around here actually crash through the bushes. They've woken me up more than once in my camping life, thrashing around like an elephant as they find beds for the night. Which probably where all the stories about chucacabras and sasquathces and other hairy, night dwelling creatures come from. That's what I thought they were, huddled down in my sleeping bag with only my browning-out flashlight for protection against the terrors of the night. Turns out they were just clumsy dear, but how was I to know?
Anyway, my rambling point is this; It completely boggled (yes, I said boggled) my mind when I was younger that there were places in the world that weren't exactly like where I was. That most of the planet is desert still is a strange idea. When a book would talk about a place, it automatically became a version of my local geography and climate, even if the book said something absolutely opposite. I had a default location setting.
Getting out and seeing more of the country and world, even through pictures and television, is so very important. Otherwise all my stories would happen in the same place. I love mapquest/bingmaps/google earth. I love finding places in Europe that have interesting geological features and putting them in imaginary places, or basing a story in some random town in the Midwest. You can even look up stores and population numbers and everything you need for a ready to use plot setting.
Saves my brain for the tricky stuff. Like what the plot actually is.