Last weekend, I was out for a nice leisurely drive with my family and had a chance to just stare out the window for a half hour or so just taking in the scenery: the rocky brown terrain of inland Southern California as you climb gently over the recently burned out slopes to reach mini-mountain elevations. Okay, well, truthfully - we were on our way to the pumpkin patch with an over-tired 18 month old singing her version of the Barney theme song, the digital shooting sounds of a 10 year old on a Star Wars DS game, and an ornery 8 year old complaining of hunger and heat. In her defense, it was 92 degrees at the pumpkin patch, so maybe she was hot. But regardless of the chatter and noise, I DID manage to get 30 minutes sitting still and looking out the window. I wasn't handing over cheerios or lathering sun screen on bare arms, I was just sitting. And what I realized while I was looking out the window was that I love scenery. Now my husband would call me a liar because I am rarely moved by the view from a skyscraper or the view from a cliff overlooking a lush, green valley...and frankly, I never knew why. Why am I not in awe of these inspiring views when I truly love beautiful places. And what I discovered was that I don't love a good view. I love scenery. I love driving through an area and picturing how people live there. I love how scenes float by the car window slowly so that you can draw out the experience and almost become one with it. A view is simply one dimensional to me. But scenery is completely 3D.
I mention this - not so much to ramble on - which I tend to do, but because I realize that most of my ideas for stories come from scenery that is intriguing or places I've been that speak to me so strongly that I just HAVE to create characters to experience it for me. My first novel was set among the cattle ranches of Oklahoma where I had been just once but held so much passion and heart that I had to get back there if only on paper. My current novel is set on the rolling hillsides of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania where people live a simpler life...perhaps a nod to my inner need to reduce stress in my life?
I just find it amazing when a piece of my writing process becomes clearer to me - more concrete.
It's an amazing journey we are on as writers. I'm so glad to be here among you all!