In my recent journaling, trying to mine the depths of my soul for writing, I received a tip to explore my wild side. Yeah, right . . . I may have had a wild side when I was younger, but my days now consist of work, taking care of our furbabies, watching TV and going to bed, with a side of laundry & housekeeping for good measure. If I drink 2 glasses of wine, I’m sound asleep. I don’t drink and drive, don’t do drugs, don’t smoke. BUT . . . those times when I have pushed myself, I felt more alive than I ever have before.
We took a rented Jeep up & over Tin Cup Pass – a 4×4 trail in Colorado. That was exhilarating as all get out. It was fun, exciting, challenging. I remember two main things about that day: (1) having to pee so badly when we were above the tree line that I dropped trou & hunkered down behind a scrubby bush – just as a bunch of 4-wheelers came down the switchback trail above us. My ever-so-thoughtful husband snapped a pic. And (2) when we reached the summit, it was like being on another planet. Truly awe-inspiring beauty and solitude.
I went on a police ride along last year, during the downtown night shift. The officer who took me was very helpful, glad to answer questions and allowed me to experience more than I ever though I would get to. I remember a couple of intense moments from that night: (1) the ability of the officer to maintain his composure even when the perp puked towards him, (2) the strain in the officer’s voice when he was responding to an attempted suicide that turned into an attack, and (3) that moment when I was locked in the SUV in a rough part of town with flashing lights strobing around me and thought, “Holy cow, what on Earth am I doing here?”
So, what have you done that was a walk on the wild side for you? Something that pushed you out of your comfort zone?
As a writer, I mine the depths of my psyche for things to put on the page. The common adage, write what you know, can be a bit misleading. At least I think so. If I wrote what I know, you’d be reading about a boring paralegal who is a newly-minted empty nester who spends 40 hours a week behind a desk and her free time reading and scrapping and watching television. Not exactly edge-of-your-seat reading. But I do know something about fear, desire, longing, love, etc. Emotions are at the heart of every piece of fiction that resonates with a reader. After all, it’s the emotion under the actions that inspires a writer as well as the reader.
Fear is what first sucked me into reading – Stephen King is the master. He can take one little situation and turn it into the most terrifying hours of life (and he is the reason I would never, ever, ever let anyone handcuff me to a bed . . . heck, I can’t even READ about that anymore after I read Gerald’s Game).
I’m trying to include more depth of emotion in my writing. Here’s what scares me the most, in no particular order:
Spiders. I can’t even stand to touch a dead one. They creep me out. Just attaching the photo above gave me the willies.
Tornadoes. I read an article when I was 8 or 9 years old about a woman whose body was found naked in a tree. The tornado had literally ripped her clothes off. At least that’s the way my 8 year old mind thought about it. Didn’t occur to me back then that she might’ve been sleeping nude. My hubs laughs at me, but during storms I am FULLY dressed. Don’t want to be found nekkid in a tree.
Fire. I lived through the Centralia Gas Fires (Jan 28, 1982 . . . lest we forget). I remember vividly being told that there had been an explosion at the elementary school, where my little brother was and I thought I had lost him. Terrifying doesn’t begin to describe the situation.
I’m going to mine some of those memories in my writing this week. Help me out. What scares YOU?