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Tuesday, April 12, 2016


Have you ever noticed how liberating a good long drive can be for your creative mind?
In February, we drove 1500 miles from north Texas to a New Mexico ski resort. Then in March, we hopped back in the car and drove 5,000 miles to Atlantic Maritime Canada (round trips, of course!)… I’ve spent more time our car in the last two months than in the past three years combined.

Driving Into A Blizzard
There’s something exciting about being away from your usual neck of the woods, out on the open highway surrounded by red rocks or endless cattle grazing fields, with nothing but blue skies as far as the eye can see. Texas is so huge it takes forever to get to the state line. 

It’s not always about fair weather travel, though. One can be confronted with blizzards and howling winds, flooded roads and pelting rainstorms. Surprisingly, these can be even more stimulating to the muse than the serenity of fine weather.

On the New Mexico (homeschooling) trip, we stayed in a very bizarre ski resort. Tiny, low budget, barely on the map, hostile staff that were masters of making you feel tolerated—almost. Everything in the place was broken, from bed frames to appliances, faulty electricity, poor heating and on and on it goes.

The highlight of the trip was a supernatural experience my son and I had, that led to… a story implanting itself in my head… a full story, from beginning to end. I have not written it yet, nor made notes. It’s one of those situations where all I have to do is think of the place and the story flashes before my inner eye. When I sit down to write the novella it will be done within a week if I can keep my schedule clear.

On the 2,500 mile drive north to Canada, my mind wandered to other creative pursuits. Jewelry design ideas… themes for non-fiction books to add to the list already gathering cyber-dust on my laptop.

After a delightful week with family we were back in the car heading home. I thought about a story that had been troublesome for months. It needed to be written soon and I’d been stumped, frustrated and blocked on some plot twists. 

Magical Inn During Blizzard In Maine
We got stuck in a blizzard in Maine on the first night. My thoughts meandered into a realm ruled by the winter gods. The most unexpected plot prompts came into play, leading me to see the story from an entirely different angle. The inn we stayed at was an old-fashioned, enchanted property. No doubt appealing in regular weather, it was decked out and bejeweled in sparkling snow now, and could have been the winter castle of the ice queen. 

By the time we rolled into our driveway, the story was written—in my head. Now to get both novellas from my brain to the laptop… is there an app for that?

Meanwhile, I’m done driving for now. My body has almost accepted that it’s no longer in drive-motion, and I’ve got a healthier-than-ever respect for long distance professional drivers. 

Have you got a story to share about how driving or a distant place stoked your creativity?

GEMMA JULIANA writes all kinds of love stories, from contemporary to paranormal. She has a penchant for romantic international settings. Gemma lives in a cozy cottage in Texas with her very own hero, teen son, and a dog who rules them all. Chocolate and coffee nourish her muse and fuel her creativity. She loves hearing from readers.


Paris said...

Great post and very timely! I'm actually planning a road-trip with friends, next month. While the bizarre ski resort with the surly characters might inspire a story, I'm hoping we get better service, lol!

Cara Marsi said...

I love road trips. When I was a child, my family took lots of road trips. The one that stands out the most and that influenced my love of the Southwest was a trip we took cross-country first by train (my dad worked for the railroad). He bought a car, a 1950 Buick for $50, in California, and we drove back. We spent one night in the NM desert because at that time, 1958, there were very few motels along the highways. That is one of the best remembrances of my life. The same road trip inspired me to write a story set in Wyoming. The train went through Wyoming and I liked the scenery so I wrote my very first (unsold) book set there. Great post, Gemma. I can't wait to read the stories you're writing.

Gemma Juliana said...

Paris, I hope you get better service, too! We felt like we had landed in an alternative universe!

Gemma Juliana said...

Imagine buying a Buick for $50! What an amazing experience, Cara, especially sleeping in the desert with the stars above. It ignited a love of travel in you that endures to this day.

The Orient Express forever colored my perception of train travel, and when you add Polar Express, well...! It's such a magical way to get around. Unfortunately I haven't indulged in as much train travel as I'd like to. Maybe someday...

And speaking of someday, have you got any plans to revamp that first novel and indie publish it?

jean hart stewart said...

I keep a notebook in the side pocket of my car. I jot down ideas as they come to me, as I'm aware they will flit away if I don't. Interesting trip!

Gemma Juliana said...

Great idea, Jean. My ideas also evaporate into thin air, like dreams, if I don't note them quickly.

Melissa Keir said...

I love traveling down to Ohio to visit my dad. I always get to thinking about stories. It's fun to play "what if"....

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