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Thursday, 3 April 2014
Absence Makes the Pen Grow Stronger...literally

After spending two weeks basking in the tropical warmth of Costa Rica, I'm back in the relative frigidity of Metro Vancouver. I say 'relative,' given the current conditions in the Maritime region, specifically Prince Edward Island, to which I will travel later this month for a law conference. In case you missed my two vacation posts, you'll find them below, though the second one, dated March 27th, wasn't actually posted until Sunday afternoon after I had returned, given the technological challenges my current webhost has in playing nicely with most Apple products, iPad, my choice of device when traveling, in particular being particularly shunned by the kids in the Tripod/Lycos web hosting yard. And the first week's vacation post was a trio of haikus; I'm not sure I would necessarily encourage bothering to scroll down to check those out, particularly if you are at all skilled in poetry.

Julia Cameron advises writers - all artists, really - to take themselves weekly on an "artist's date," an encounter with something away from home that could range from a walk in the woods, a la Thoreau to a trip to the museum, movies or even the mall, if only to refresh the images bank stored in all our heads as we work towards keeping the muse continuously unblocked. Travel, then, ought to be a bonus of image bank filling, particularly when traveling someplace new and even far removed from previous experiences.

It works.

I've written before about the impact travel has on stirring the creative juices and as much as I was looking forward to our trip as a respite from the exhaustion of the day job, I was also hoping time on the Caribbean beaches and jungles of the coast would prompt my own creative renaissance.

To be sure, it didn't happen immediately. Without going into enormous detail about the many reasons for which I needed to decompress from the day job - and it has been a particularly challenging and tiring few months on that front - suffice to say I needed a a bit of time with which to simply unwind from the stresses of the day to day before the creative juices would begin to flow, or at least to dribble. There was also the matter of a paper I needed to write for a university course I'm currently taking (I'm a glutton for punishment), one I had hoped to have finished prior to leaving for the trip but that damned day job again proved prohibitive to production.

But eventually it did. And as I've described before, I was prepared for the possibility that travel would once again provoke a desire to go old school, shunning the technology for the quaint, if somewhat less efficient, prose creation tool of pad and paper. And while I've tried others (my trip last summer was on simple white with blue lines) for inspiration, something about the yellow, lined legal pad not only spurs me to write but for reasons I'm confident not even a therapist could explain, feels less intimidating than white or the nagging, blinking cursor of the computer screen.

My current implement need is for the felt-tip variety, one which has a smooth glide and easy flow of ink without being so thick as to easily smudge should my hand inadvertently run across it in the process (I was quite disappointed when it exploded on the flight home and I had to switch to plain old ballpoint). Blue ink is my preference, darker than the blue lines of the yellow pad, though in a pinch I could probably make do with black. This has evolved over the years; while I've always favoured the yellow legal pad, I used to favour pencil, not because I did a whole lot of erasing but there was something comforting in the perceived temporariness of the lead scribblings that made the process less intimidating. My preference for pens, particularly of the 'easy-rolling' variety I like to think has to do with maturity but it could also be a sign of middle age: it's possible my wrist is getting arthritic and the less resistance on the paper the better. But I still prefer to think it has to do with maturity.

The challenge was that not only did I find the new tropical environment inspiring, it inspired up a whole new story. As much as I was trying to focus on the current book - and to be sure, I hand wrote fifteen or so pages in the final few days of our trip - I couldn't help but see elements of a novel set in Costa Rica everywhere I looked. It's probably important that I set down the basic structures of that story while they're still fresh in mind.

Meanwhile, I'm hoping that my desire to get to those next novels will inspire me to push forward and get W3.doc finished. Soon.

Either that or I need to travel pretty much all the time.

Next week: I feel a grammar rant coming.

Posted by davidrussellbc at 12:01 AM PDT
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