Thursday, July 12, 2012

Taking Notes

It’s strange how our perceptions change with time.  I used to travel a lot with my family when I was in my teens and I was lucky enough to go to lots of interesting places.  We followed a sort of “wish list” of countries we wanted to go to – my dad and I chose historical sites like Greece and Egypt, while my mum and brother preferred safaris and beaches.  It was all great fun, but the trouble is that my memories of all these trips are very hazy.

Scribbling in Nagasaki
I remember snippets of course – standing among the ruins of the Acropolis, climbing up inside a pyramid bent double because of the lack of space, sleeping in a tent somewhere in a Kenyan safari park while elephants stampeded outside (!) and fainting inside the Karnak temple (it was 40 degrees Celsius in the shade and I was ill).  But I couldn’t possibly describe any of it in detail, more is the pity.

Not so when I travel these days.  Being a writer, I don’t go anywhere without a pen and paper, and my family frequently have to sit around waiting while I scribble furiously, trying to make notes about my surroundings - the sights, sounds and smells of whatever place we’re visiting.  I often wish I’d done that when I was younger!  But of course, I had no idea then that I would ever need specific details of the sights I saw.  I was happy just to have been there.

At the moment, I’m travelling again, driving towards Scotland, to be precise, for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s annual conference, which is just south of the border this year at Penrith.  (And see - I'm bringing my clogs, Anna, for the dancing!)  But as Scotland is so close, and I don’t go that way very often, I’m taking a slight detour to visit a friend near Dumfries.  And of course, I’ll be making notes along the way – perhaps stopping at Gretna Green?  I see every journey as an opportunity now, every place a possible setting for a future story.  You just never know and something I come across might trigger that all-important first flash of inspiration.  I love not knowing when it’s going to strike!

The best thing about travelling though – at least for me – is getting back home again afterwards.  By that time, I’m usually impatient to start writing again, having been away from it for a while.  And if I’m lucky, I’ll have brought home lots of new ideas as well – perfect!

Please come back on Sunday to hear from Liz (who is always travelling, right Liz?)

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