Tuesday, June 5, 2012

IWSG from the Beach



I'm writing this from the beach.  Well, actually, from the hotel.  I'm posting early.  It's raining outside, I'm wearing a fleece sweater, and my kids have run out of inside things to do.  My husband keeps nervously rattling things around.  Rattling gets on my nerves. 

The drive to get here was difficult.  We planned to stop halfway after six hours, get a hotel room in the mountains, and then drive another six.  We did stop in the middle, but each half of the trip took nine hours instead of six, in part because of bad Google directions that took us through a dozen small towns and a thousand stop signs.

Every time we got going at least one of three kids announced they had to pee.  Google sent us on a path with very few places to stop.  At one point we drove through a town with a little festival that had two porta-potties on the sidewalk.  My husband asked Siri where there would be a restaurant or bathroom.  She said there were none.  So we turned around on a gravel driveway, parked in the lot for a restaurant that did not have a bathroom (what's with that?), and ran for the porta-potties.  Thank you, God, for hand sanitizer.

I have a back problem.  Once we finally got to a highway, I stopped at rest stops to do yoga on a beach towel on the grass.  That's right.  I laid on a pink beach towel on the grass at rest stops in three states.  Each time I asked my kids or husband to stand with me because I had to close my eyes since the sun was sunny in the sky.  I didn't want to open my eyes to see a dog in my face or a crowd of random people staring at me.  Every time I opened my eyes, I was alone.  They ditched me every time.  And every time my husband said, "Oh, you wanted me to stay with you?"  Yes I did.

But that's not my point.

The thing I discovered about myself as a writer on this trip that makes me a feel a little less secure than when I left is this:  the beach used to inspire me to write. Even thinking of the beach, this beach that I've been visiting since I was a child, inspires me to write.  It has always had a magical power to make me feel relaxed and happy.  Now it doesn't.  It's just the place where the land and water meet.  It lost its awe for me.

What if other things that normally inspire me to write suddenly lose their magic?

I know there's really no literal magic - no pixie dust or rainbow unicorns.  But there's that magical thing that happens for me, the thing I could count on up until now - where I could put myself in a particular situation and be certain I would get lost in my writing. 

I think a comfortable seat would help.  Maybe my own laptop instead of my husband's laptop (the keys aren't as loose, and I'm aware of every keypress, which is definitely annoying me enough to keep me from getting lost).  In theory a drink from the poolside bar would help, but lately alcohol just gives me a headache.

My epiphany is this:  Maybe what I have going on at home, which I normally imagine is a bit of house arrest, is really what I need as a writer.  That's kind of awesome.  And incredibly ironic.



42 comments:

  1. I feel you. I tend to be a more productive writing when I'm trying to escape from my every day life.

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  2. I enjoyed your post. Maybe it's just too many distractions. Now I'm curious which beach you're referring to.

    Life or Fate just loves throwing curve balls at us.

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    1. There is a lot of commotion around me, that's for sure.

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  3. Well, you wouldn't have know if you hadn't gone to the beach! Maybe that is kind of awesome.
    Glad you're there safe. Relax and enjoy the best you can.

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  4. well maybe you should just enjoy a nice break!!

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    1. Today was raining so we went bowling. My three year old had bumpers and a little slide for the ball - he won. There was a tie for the most gutter balls. Something was definitely wrong with the lane. :)

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  5. We're going to the beach in a couple of weeks and I'm wishing for sunshine and words. I understand the back issues. I'm hoping we split up our 10 hr. drive since that is a killer for me. I hope the rest of your trip is sunshine and fun.

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    1. It's raining again, but we're making the most of it. I found my words today at the kitchen table with Dora the Explorer in the background while my older kids slept in. Just like home.

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  6. That sounds like a frustrating trip so far. I hope it gets better. We are planning a mountain vacation next month, which inspires me to write. In fact, I have an idea for a story to take place there so I will be doing "research" :)

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    1. I was going to do research for a story too, but I'm having a hard time paying attention to little details. It is frustrating.

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  7. Google sent me on a ten hour drive through the UK once that was only supposed to take six! *shakes fist*

    And I've experienced that let down of a former point of inspiration. I don't know, maybe it's age and it's natural to feel less awed as we get older. On second thought, I don't like that idea very much. Maybe our focus just shifts. Yes, I'm going with shifting points of inspiration.

    Enjoy the rest of your time at that place where the land and water meet. :)

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    1. I went out on the porch last night after the rain cleared just as the horizon was turning pink. I sat on a rocking chair and had a notebook in hand. The hot tub under the deck was buzzing. Cars were rushing by. And the AC at the house next door was clearly having issues - they replaced it this morning. There are really loud dehumidifiers in every room on top of ACs. I thought the buzz of technology at home was bad. I think that's part of why I can't clear my head here.

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  8. I think L.G. is right. Our focus shifts. I drive along the coast everyday to work and there are some days when I don't even notice the ocean. It is hard to get excited about something you see everyday. Then during the summer when all the tourists make their way to the beach I realize that I live in a tourist destination. My focus shifts and I begin to think about all the things I take for granted where I live. To relate this back to writing, when things that normally inspire me lose their luster, I must shift my focus to find my muse again.

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    1. We went to Fun Planet yesterday to play golf. At the restaurant next door, we asked if there was a Target anywhere. The waitress bemoaned the fact there is nothing to do here. Funny that we drove to a place she thinks is boring.

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  9. I am glad that you are finally at the beach. I find that sometimes solitary in a familiar place helps my writing a lot. Maybe because there are so many unfamiliar factors, you are unable to find your focus.

    It is ok for you to sit back and wait for the ocean view to wow you. I believe you can find the magic again.

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    1. Last night the tide was high and there wasn't much wind. The whole family went walking down the beach. We got some great pictures.

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  10. Your story was hilarious and makes me even more anxious to meet my first child that is kicking away at various internal organs.

    I think when one thing that used to inspire us loses its "magic" something else replaces it. Not always right away, but eventually. I'm happy that house arrest is working for you.

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    1. Two of my kids kicked more when people were talking - they popped out as extroverts. The other one saved the kicking for when it was just us - and he is an introvert for sure. I think my organs are still bruised from the beating I got from my last one. Totally worth it though.

      I wrote today, so I haven't lost my muse entirely. My expectations for this trip were definitely different than how it's actually going down - that's probably my problem.

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  11. Wonderful post, Tonja! I loved all the quirks and humor and the underlying depth of emotion. You write very well!

    Maybe it's just that as a writer, you're discovering that the 'magic' doesn't have to be only in a far-away place. As a writer now have the power to unleash that magic no matter where you are.

    I hope you enjoy the rest of your trip!

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  12. Love your light-hearted humour.
    Maybe you have outgrown the beach as a source of inspiration and new sources of inspiration are waiting in the wings... maybe "house arrest" is your no. 1 inspiration... enjoy the rest of the trip!

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    1. I'll just pretend I'm wearing an electronic monitor on my ankle. :)

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  13. Your narrative about your trip had me in hysterics. Man, I have been there. I hear ya about the magic. I don't look for magic place to write nowadays. Now I look for solitude to create the magic. And with summer break upon us, I'll be lucky if I get any. Great post.

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    1. I've never been so happy to see a porta-potty - until I realized how terrified I am to be in there once the door closed. I don't like how they wiggle. Uncool to have a panic attack in the porta-potty.

      I think my problem has been a lack of solitude. When I think about this place, I hear the crashing waves and nothing else. That's not how it is at all.

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  14. I love irony. For me a day at the beach is well, a day at the beach. I just block everybody else out and enjoy the water and the sand and just about everything about it.

    Great narrative. They 'ditched you every time'. Maybe you need a vaca. away from the fam. You know, ditch them.

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    1. Oh, that's definitely what I need.

      It's hard to relax at the beach with kids. The little one is unpredictable and the other two think they are immortal. And the husband has incredibly slow reflexes.

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  15. I love what faraway eyes said. Oh Tonja, it is exhausting sometimes trying to figure all this out. And I don't have 3 kids.
    Karen

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    1. I'm going to really try to live in the moment this evening - even if that means I need to get liquored up.

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  16. I hope the sun is out by now. Are you in Oregon? It's cold here ...

    Sounds like you need some frivolity. :) Hope you find some soon. Your mojo will be back.

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    1. We're in North Carolina. I'm wearing fleece instead of a swimsuit. It's cold and windy, but we bought kites. My kids told me it's warm enough for the pool, but the rest of us are wearing long pants.

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  17. at the beach, I would ditch my laptop, kick off my shoes despite the cold (I live in Washington state and the water is freezing), and just dig my feet into the sand, and build castles with my kids, and then write, write, write in the car on the way home.
    Home is sometimes the best place to write, even if the dog's looking at me with that why aren't you loving me more" look, my kids are currently running around trying to find all their stuff for dance pictures and dance class, my hubster is just coming in the door, and I have to run, run, run. But first a few more words . . .

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    1. We did build some awesome sandcastles. And I got a lot of words in finally.

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  18. That's some deep thinking. I haven't been to the beach for a few years and I always felt the magic of it too. Now I'm worried.

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  19. If I had to do all that driving with all the distractions I'd be feeling a bit grumpy. I say go alone next year (fly) and you'll probably get back the beach magic! For a while I had to write away from home. Then all of a sudden I only wanted to write at home. I think our writerly muses just change it up every once in a while:)

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    1. I do need some time alone. I'd miss everyone though and feel terribly guilty. When I feel stuck at home, I usually go out, but not far.

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  20. This is so interesting to me, because I have a beach I visit that always had the same effect on me. But the last time I went, it didn't feel the same somehow. It's a weird feeling, but at the same time I think it's great you have found that magic you need to write at home.

    Sorry you are having rain there, I hope by now the weather has improved. I had to laugh at the restaurant that didn't have a bathroom. What the heck??

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    1. Good that I'm not alone, but sorry your spot lost its magic too. Yesterday was better.

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  21. Just stopping by from IWSG to say hi. I also want to say that I love the way you write...there's something magical about it :)

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    1. LOL!! Thank you. My sparkly rainbow-colored unicorn muse finally made it here. :)

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  22. What's that saying? When a door closes a Muse breaks a window? I don't know. Something like that.
    It just sounds like to me that your inspirational place is you. When you're feeling a certain way, peaceful, relaxed, etc, then the words come. The place may be irrelevant.
    So I guess I'm saying...find a happy place in you!
    Best of luck.
    Heather

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