Day: September 27, 2012

Bits of Stories all Around

One of the reasons I like walking in the woods is because I see things that beg to be made into stories.

This little clearing was completely covered by this round leafed plant. My brain wanted to explain that the ground was somehow sacred and that I must tread lightly.

These mossy holes in the river bank look like a fairy apartment complex to me.

The structure of these mushroom caps make me think of terraced alien life forms.

I passed by this log and immediately thought of troll skin, or perhaps the skin of some long sleeping mountain giant.

And nearly running into this web across the path reminded me of the spiders and webs in The Hobbit. I’m pretty sure Tolkien met some actual forest spiders before writing that one.

A friend in a writer’s forum mentioned how good it was for writers to do right brained things, like tromping the woods or drawing pictures, instead of always being tangled up in words all the time. I agree. I need to spend time filling up my idea well. Of course a forest is not the only place to find ideas. The jug pictured below is in my room at the retreat. I’m in “Dr. Walker’s room” which used to belong to an actual turn of the century doctor. Many of his medical texts line one of the benches. Seeing them fills me with thoughts about historical medical practices. But the jug also drew my attention. I thought it was kind of cute. Then I got up close for a look. I think those may be human teeth in the jug’s mouth.

Surely these are simply baby teeth that some artist collected after they fell out, but my brain assures me that there are other stories I could tell about this jug. This is particularly true since at the moment I’m reading Mamma Day, a book which has voo doo as a plot element. For now I’m trying not to think about the story possibilities inherent in that jug since most of them are creepy and I sleep in the same room with the thing. I’m sleeping in the same room and the house is over 100 years old. The possibilities for ghost and horror stories abound. But I’ll ponder that when I’m far away back home.

Speaking of home, I miss it a lot today.

The People at the Retreat

It occurs to me that I’ve spent three posts talking about the forest and I probably ought to talk about the retreat itself and the other writers here. I knew Mary Robinette before coming, of course. I’d also previously met Alethea Kontis. Everyone else was new to me. I figured they had to be good people since they were all invited by Mary. The group here is fairly small, ten people. Getting acquainted has been a leisurely process because most everyone is spending hours each day staring at their computers deep in story. When I began taking pictures of the folks here and asking permission to post them to the internet, staring at screens was most of what I photographed.

Mary Robinette Kowal, Michael Livingston, Monte Cook, and Shanna Germain writing on the porch in the evening.

David Levine deep in story.

Kate Yule at work.

It is not always work. Ellen Klages takes a break from writing by reading Glamour in Glass.

Alethea Kontis communing with the forest.

We tend to gather and talk at meal times. It helps that Mary cooks the most fantastic dinners.

Sometimes we talk about story or the projects we’re working on, but meal time conversations tend to be about anything and everything. Over lunch today we actually had a conversation about conversations, which was rather meta, but fascinating. I like being around other writers because they pay attention to random things and then think about them. I usually learn a lot. We talk and then we scatter and ignore each other for a couple of hours.

It is an odd mix of socializing and solitude. Yet it is exactly what it needs to be.