Take a Hike for Writing and Write Better


Yesterday, I came up with a great ending for a story I have in-progress called The Sadder Season. Bob and I were on one of our daily walks where we walk through the woods–a place close to South Beach where the outer trail climbs to not much more than 300 feet above sea level but when you start at sea level, it’s a pretty good hike up. Anyway, we were nearing the halfway point after coming out of the natural area down a precarious rocky slope and off onto a graveled area that runs parallel with the road. We’d dipped back onto another natural path when my story’s ending materialized before my eyes.

Walking is like that for me. I get tons of sensory stimuli from the woods, the sea and the fauna. Inevitably, something strikes a chord in me to pick up some special turn-of-phrase or write about setting or, like yesterday, write full scenes because they have practically written themselves and will not be ignored.

Of course, writing setting comes easily when you’re walking through the woods. Yesterday, we came upon a bent branch that we had to have passed several times before on these same wooded walks. But yesterday, we looked up at just the right moment to see a bend in the branch that created a perfect circle as you came up on it because the path held the branches at the perfect angle. It sort of felt like a portal to… oh, I don’t know. Another dimension? Possibly. It didn’t matter where. The sight was so exquisite and made me wonder how much time I spent with my head down watching for roots in the ground so that I wouldn’t trip over them. After I saw the portal, I kept my eyes up until the end of our walk which unfolded like some travel film (albeit without much dialogue). It was spectacular.

The land around our home is also heavily wooded with similar beauty of the trail. Our woods always enter into my writing. Way of the Wild Wood is a perfect example of how I’ve written our woods entered into story.

12022015-TDE-FrontCover-Winnerof4AwardsIt is the same with The Deer Effect. Both novels are set in small towns but The Deer Effect is set on our island. My first novel, Of the Law was also set here but much detail of the woods is left out. But that’s first novels for you. I was more interested in plotting back then for my first go at novel-writing. Again, much of the action in The Last Maharajan is also set here on our island with scenes skipping to Phoenix where I was born and raised.

But yesterday’s jaunt, although we’d walked it dozens of times before, holds a special place in my heart. That jaunt is when I learned to lift my head, open my eyes, take in the note of air—like a fine wine, touch the smooth, white walking stick made from driftwood I picked up and handed off to Bob, or the scaled hand I shook of the man who introduced himself, when I learned to listen to the warble of birds and the snapping twig a only yard away from my left hiking boot, and when I tasted the thin layer of salt on my lips left from sweat after scaling the inclines and dips over the long trail.

I write that stuff down and see what happens.


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