I would introduce you to Julie, but you already know her. Who doesn’t, right? She throws a great cocktail party at A Thought Grows, but you already knew that. Like so many of us, we met on the virtual pages of the weekly prompts at Writer’s Digest. Now that was a cocktail party.
Although I never phsically met Julie, I type this with a significant degree of certitude. She would make a lousy vampire. Too warm and friendly.
The topic for this week’s vigorously chatty blogswap is the landscape and how it inspires writers. Read on my friends and enjoy Julie’s words. I’ll be lurking in the background, filling up your red Solo cups. Nothing but the best here at this party.
The Landscape Of Creativity
Mountain Lion: Take One!
The scene: a woman is jogging up a lonely mountain road with her dog. Cue gentle music in the background. The scenery is bucolic— fields and mountains, a creek, pillar rock formations in shades of sand and red. Just off the side of the road, a young mountain lion cub sits. The woman and her dog stop to admire the cute, tawny animal with its kitten-like features. Increase dramatic music as the woman realizes, where there is a cub, there is a watchful mother cat lurking nearby ready to protect her young. The woman looks around, scanning the sage brush, pulls her dog on the leash and heads up the hill. The music crescendos in minor keys, her breath becomes ragged, anxious. And cut!
Ancient Spirits: Take One!
The scene: a woman in green cargo pants and hiking boots heads up a rocky dirt path into the mountains. Her head is down. Suddenly she stops, picks up a triangle shaped rock, holding it in her hand. The shape is so deliberate and set inside the triangle is another cut stone of a lighter color. She closes her eyes. Cue echoed chanting of an ancient people, ghosts of cultures past whispering mystic incantations.
Pan camera back to a ring of snow-capped mountains—a 360 degree view of open wilderness obliterating signs of civilization. Suddenly, as she crests the hill, a huge buck emerges, a majestic rack on its head. Haunting flute music softly plays in the background. She holds her breath as three more bucks with equally huge racks step out and stare at her. The woman clutches the rock in her fist realizing they are signs. Build music. She closes her eyes as the ancient spirits from the mountains envelope her. And cut!
Rodeo Cowboy: Take One!
The scene: a woman sits in the grandstands of the annual rodeo scanning the bullpens. Country music, laced with twangs of heart ache, pours from the loud-speaker. Dust kicked up from the hooves of bulls and horses filter in the air, as a rodeo announcer’s voice proclaims the over 100-year tradition open and the National Anthem is sung. Pull camera across arena where a cowboy walks out in his tight Wranglers outfitted with leather chaps. His cowboy hat tilts over his eyes. He stares at the bull. Crowd sounds fade. The bull’s breath puffs in slow-motion, steamy snorts. It’s all the cowboy hears…smells…feels. He climbs the pen, ready to lower himself onto the tensing muscles and pulsing rage of the beast. And cut!
Each of these scenes are creative non-fiction—actual events I have experienced with an added spin of imagination to give them meaning. I have spent the last 19 years in a small town nestled at 8000 feet in the Colorado Mountains. My environment with its culture of outdoor recreation, skiing, wilderness, and history of ranching, mining and Ute Indians provides vivid experiences and landscapes for writers and artists.
Many artists—song writers, writers, photographers, painters—have been influenced by their environment, whether it be the Rocky Mountain High of John Denver, the frontier of Louis L’Amour, or the red rocks and desert colors of Georgia O’Keefe.
The stories of your world can provide great inspiration for your settings, characters and plots. Have you ever felt so immersed in an environment that it filters into your memory and finds its way into your words? What is your landscape? How has it influenced you?
Joseph’s blog is among the first I ever began following. His writing is smart, humorous and always thought-provoking. I’m honored to have been allowed a guest spot on his blog. I am writer published in regional and national magazines and regularly hike, bike, kayak, ski, jog and otherwise thoroughly enjoy and absorb the Colorado mountains I call home.