Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Enriching my experiences

I loved the discussion from my post yesterday. Thanks Erica for planting the seed. Today’s post follows on information I’ve gleaned from reading other blogs about developing rich descriptions of experiences, places and people.
Yesterday afternoon I had the opportunity to sail from Shilshole bay through the Ballard locks and into Lake Union on a replica of a tall 2-masted sailing ship. Along with its sister ship, they make an annual pilgrimage here for tours and to put on mock pirate battles on the lake (viewable from my office window).
The trip was a gift from my boss and his wife. (Yes, I’m very lucky!) Since this was my first trip through the locks on a boat, I thought this would be a perfect occasion to use all my senses to experience the trip. I tried to let go of any preconceived notions and just see, hear, smell, feel and - well, there wasn’t anything to taste – but I wanted to really be aware of the whole event.
I don’t normally do something with this in mind, so it was very interesting and I loved it. It actually made the whole thing better. Every time I was aware of something new, I took a picture to remind myself of it. Looking at those pictures now, I can still remember. Thought you might enjoy seeing a few of them.
What do you do to enrich your experiences and therefore your writing?


A Paperback Writer said...

First of all, nice pictures. I feel like I'm there with you.
I think you're doing a great job of enriching your experiences. I'm a big believer in writing what you know, and if you want to write about something new, then you need to learn that something before you write. Shannon Hale actually had to learn to use a sling (as a weapon) so she could write about it in River Secrets.
I've been a journal-writer for 30 years, and that helps a lot. But just paying attention to images, smells, sounds, and the feel of places and filing them away with my emotion-tagged memories does the most.
I currently tend to set my stories in either real places I know (Edinburgh, Scotland or Escalante, Utah) or combinations thereof merged into fiction. When I visit new places, I take lots of photos and notes -- small things like address, local flora and fauna, speech patterns in people, that kind of stuff. It's a lot like keeping a character notebook like a lot of people do.
And you never know when stuff will come in handy. Sometimes it's just a simile that makes something tangible for a reader.
good luck!

sex scenes at starbucks said...

How beautiful. Being on a boat is among my favorite experiences. I grew up sailing. (Of course I mostly hated it then, when I didn't know any better.)

I have the worst time turning OFF my senses so that I can carry on a normal conversation. I'm terribly distracted most of the time, just experiencing the world and watching people. My husband hates it. My characters love it.

The Anti-Wife said...

APW and SSS,
I was closed off to anything except my own emotions for so long that I feel like I missed some really wonderful sensory experiences. It's wonderful to reawaken and encourage that side of me.

Church Lady said...

Beautiful pictures!
I try to pay better attention to detail now, rather than completely wrapped-up in my own thoughts/imagination. I make an effort to notice what paperback writer talked about--images, smells, sounds. It doesn't come easily to me, because normally I'm in my own little world.

The Anti-Wife said...

It's easy to get so wrapped up in your own world that you don't really see the world around you. Sometimes that's not a bad thing.

mcewen said...

Ooo I only wish that I had opportunity to do either! On the whole I think I'd probably have to admit that rather than sailing away I am merely treading water.
Best wishes

wordtryst said...

I think my main source of enrichment is reading. I'm totally lost without a book at hand. I travel whenever I can, but most of the places I've been to were located between the covers of books.

I'm open to new experiences, and I observe. A lot of the time I have trouble getting lost in an experience because I'm so busy observing and gathering impressions. Especially now that I'm writing. The writing has made me more conscious of this.

The Anti-Wife said...

Maddy and Word,
There are opportunities everywhere. We just have to be open to them.

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