I love going for drives. Especially now when the various shades of green are at their most vibrant hue. While I was in college I would commute 50 miles each way between where I lived and where the school was located. At the time it was more economical and I was also working nearly full time to pay for tuition. The only days I begrudged the drives were during finals week when I had exams scheduled for 7am. The rest of the term it was a welcome separation between my school life and my personal life. It was also a time I could reflect.
Many of my early writing ideas came during those drives. Through my windows I could see changing scenery (city, rural, and wilderness) throughout each of the four seasons. I could drive through a mix of lush and burned out mountains and imagine what it would be like to climb to the top and view what was on the other side — away from the highway and civilization. I could engage in long conversations with imaginary strangers, or let my characters create their own scenes, which I often transcribed in shorthand the moment I got to school or home.
Looking back, that was one of the most product periods of my writing life. I was just as busy then as I am now, but that forced down time encouraged creative thought, inspired (responsible) flights of fancy, and helped form the writer I have become. Not a single one of those stories I wrote then has seen publication, though a couple of my poems were chosen for inclusion in an edition of the English Department’s e-zine. However, they did serve as the foundation of my education as a writer. Through them I learned which writing styles worked for me and which didn’t. I discovered the difference between showing vs. telling. And I also found road rage isn’t as big an issue when you’re enjoying yourself rather than trying to get somewhere 30 minutes earlier than you need to.
Gas is more expensive these days, but I do still make it a point to go for a drive by myself as often as possible. I keep the music off or very low and just allow my mind to wander down the curvy back roads of Southern Oregon. There is one road I’m particularly excited to travel again now that the weather has warmed up and the ice has melted. It reminds me of the road Frodo and his friends traveled on their way to the Prancing Pony. In fact, at this time of year, most of the area I live in is very much how I picture Middle Earth looking. It really is a writer’s paradise.