First, an announcement. I may not be able to post for the next two weeks, since I’m going to be in New York. I’m trying to set up a regular schedule, ideally on every Thursday, and I realize that this trip is not helping that. But in my defense, traveling can really help with writing.
A year or two ago, I took a trip to Reno with my father and step-mother. It was only for a couple of days, but one of the decorations in the hotel we stayed in helped me sort out a problem I’d been having in one of my stories. Specifically, I couldn’t figure out exactly how to picture and describe a major steam engine in one of my steampunk stories. I knew I wanted it big, dramatic, and powerful. And running on a bit of hollywood thermodynamics. But unless I know what something looks like in my head, I can’t describe it.
To put it bluntly, I was stuck.
In the hotel we were staying in, they had this giant oil derrick on display. I don’t know if it was once real and they converted it to a casino-hotel decoration, or if it had just been designed to look like one, but it was gorgeous. All its moving parts worked perfectly, too. Now, obviously, I wasn’t writing a steampunk story with an oil derrick in it, but I knew I wanted to base my engine to resemble that derrick. And the beauty of writing is that you only have to paint the vaguest outline in the reader’s head. Their imagination fills in the rest.
So I typed out a rough description on my phone, typed out a description modified from “oil derrick” to “steam engine”, copied it all into my story when I got home, and I was done.
So, thanks to this experience, I have somewhat high hopes for whenever I go traveling across the country with my dad and step-mother. Maybe I’ll figure out another answer to one of my stories in New York, too. Though, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. Seattle is practically an ant compared to the elephant that is New York City. Forget stepping out of the comfort zone, this is leaping out at cruising altitude without a parachute.
Wish me luck in New York 🙂