Ruth E. Walker. My husband and I were visiting our son, daughter-in-law and grandsons in the Texas Panhandle last month. We had a hotel booked for most of the visit so I thought I might have time to do a bit of writing. After all, during the week, our grandsons were in school and their parents were working. Free time, I thought.
Hah! I’d forgotten how exhausting and complicated travel can be. Most of our “spare time” was spent in busy mode (planning and taking day trips, helping out around the house, etc.) Any other spare time was devoted to recovery mode: sleeping. (Grandparents everywhere will understand this.)
So I didn’t write. At least, not on paper.
The thing about travel is that you experience difference and, for writers, difference is pure inspiration gold. While we have been to Texas a few times in the past few years, it’s still intriguing to see men strolling through the modern Dallas airport, sporting wide-brimmed Stetsons and stylish leather jackets. There’s a kind of Texas-walk — confident and straight-ahead. And Texas talk, too — How y’all doin’? (If there is a group of you, it becomes: How all y’all doin’?)
There’s difference in food. Biscuits and gravy is on almost every menu and Taco Bell Texas figured out how to work it in: get your taco fixings in a tea biscuit. Before ordering iced tea in restaurants, I remember to ask for “sweet tea” or it comes decidedly unsweetened.
So what does this have to do with writing? Being somewhere different — whether on vacation or on a writing retreat — it tickles your mind and your senses. Sour gas odours from the oil wells. Billboards touting Texas Pecan Company offering nut cracking services. Pecans fresh from my son’s front yard tree (and cracked locally.) The sticky and soft texture of a white tail deer’s tongue and lips taking a carrot from my hand. The quick intake of passengers’ breath when our plane hit strong turbulence coming home.
In short, the senses are on overdrive. For me, that usually results in my imagination working overtime, and it was certainly the case this time.
I’ve come home with an idea for a play. It’s rough. It has nothing to do with Texas. But it does have a lot to do with airplanes that encounter far more than turbulence. I’m excited just thinking about the possibilities of that play, of the characters, of the idea behind it all. Once I finish my current manuscript, I’ll be working on that script. I might even work in something about waffles. And pecans. And maybe even Texas. Or maybe none of it will end up in the play. Just the plane. Or maybe just the turbulence.
Remember that writing is not always about putting words on paper. Sometimes writing is all in your mind, full of inspiration and potential, just waiting its turn to land on your page.