Tuesday, March 22, 2011
One of the reasons we chose this particular cruise was because it stopped at several islands we hadn't visited yet, along with one old favorite. Visiting new places really kick starts my imagination and this trip was no exception. I found myself thinking about my current writing project constantly -- not in the "oh, no, I should be writing!" way, but in the much better, "hey, I could use this in my story!" kind of way. I even found myself dreaming about the characters in new settings and that's a sure sign that something's going right.
Each island left its own unique impression. In Bequia, I felt like I was visiting the Caribbean as it might have been about ten to fifteen years ago, before cruising became such a huge business and all the mega-ships were so prevalent (our ship had about 290 passengers and 500 people total). Bequia was a sleepy little place, but that might have been because we were there on Sunday and it seemed that nearly everyone was either in church or going to church and most of the businesses were closed.
On St. Kitts we took a ferry to the island of Nevis and toured an incredible private botanical garden. The garden grounds were beautiful, but my favorite parts were the water features. Sounds so simple--water feature--like something you'd put in your backyard. Hah! I walked down the steps from the upper garden, turned around, and was face-to-face with a two-story high waterfall wall that looked like it belonged in an Indiana Jones movie. Talk about getting the imagination going!
On St. Barths we wandered around the town of Gustavia. This is the island where the rich and famous come to play and the upscale (really upscale) duty free shops reflect that. We had fun looking at all the giat yachts and sailboats and imagining what life might be like on board them.
We visited a few other islands, but these were the ones that provided the most fodder for my imagination. I may never use the towns or places specifically as setting, but the bits and pieces, like the feeling of floating through the forest, or suddenly coming upon an ancient sculptured wall above a waterfall pool, or the giant wooden water pipe, or how it felt to walk across a narrow suspension bridge several hundred feet above the ground--those are the things that will make it into my writing at some point.
How about you? Do you prefer to research your settings in person? Or would you rather stay closer to home and get setting details through the internet and books? It isn't always practical or necessary to visit places in person before writing about them. Traveling, though, can stir your imagination in ways you never expected. Sometimes it's as simple a matter as seeing the sky on fire as the sun sets on the ocean.