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FIELD TRIP

I hit the wall. I couldn't picture the section of forest that my protagonist found himself in.

I'm a method writer - I need to see, touch, taste, hear and smell it in my head before I can find the words to describe it on paper. I tried to stimulate the process my asking myself questions like: What do decomposing leaves smell like? What does soil taste like? What does bark feel like? How much light filters through the canopy in the depths of the forest? My mind kept giving me stupid, unhelpful, non-specific answers like: Decomposing leaves smell bad. Bark is rough (duh!) and soil tastes yucky. This was getting me nowhere.

Kelly suggested doing some research. With notebook, pen and camera in hand, (Kelly brought her mug of tea), we traipsed over to the wooded section behind the local swim club. Kelly sat on a fallen tree trunk, sipping her tea in the sun, while I braved the woods, swatting ravenous mozzies as I explored. I closed my eyes and felt the ground below my sneakers, I heard the leaves crunch and the twigs snap, I caressed the tree trunks and sniffed leaves, twigs and bark. I squatted down and disturbed the leaf litter and soil and sniffed. I skipped tasting the soil - with my luck, I'd end up tasting deer droppings by mistake. No thank you.

Later on in the week, Kelly led me on another trip into the woods. Woods that she had discovered exactly for the purpose of providing me with what I needed to get back to work. She took 30 something photos for me and as we walked, the scenery solidified in my mind and I could feel the wall begin to crumble. My forest became a character, one with which my protagonist interacts, and not just a setting. I know it much better now which makes the protagonist's journey clearer to me.

I'm going to hop over what's left of that wall and get back to work.

On the poetry front, poem 7 & 8 are by the poet we referred to at school as Willy Wobble Assegaai, the one and only William Shakespeare. I enjoyed both Shall I Compare Thee and My Mistress' Eyes. I found the second poem amusing, especially:
"I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks."

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
cedunkley
Oct. 21st, 2008 07:26 pm (UTC)
Field trips are fun. I recently took a trip up to The Gorge in Watkins Glen. The place proved to be an excellent inspiration and study for a particular scene that takes place in the later part of my current WIP.

Also, for those environments or places you'll never get to yourself, a great show to watch to give you a real insight into terrain and the impact of the environment upon a person is Man vs. Wild

angeladegroot
Oct. 22nd, 2008 01:52 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the tips.

The Gorge in Watkins Glen looks like a must-see family getaway spot. I'll have my hubby look into it and perhaps we get up there in the spring or early summer. I could kill two birds with one stone.

I'll take a look at Man v. Wild.
juliewinkler
Oct. 21st, 2008 09:18 pm (UTC)
I am incredibly impressed with you two- that is some kind of devotion (though, if you REALLY wanted it right, you'd taste the dirt)

thinking that perhaps the horror genre is going to be tough as a method writer...can't wait to hear what a zombie tastes like! :)
angeladegroot
Oct. 22nd, 2008 01:21 pm (UTC)
Yeah - I'm not tasting zombies or drinking blood in the name of research. I scare myself half to death by watching horror flicks and reading horror books, so that I can really get a handle on what fear feels like.
writerjenn
Oct. 22nd, 2008 12:02 am (UTC)
Dead leaves actually smell wonderful. Sweet. Unless they get rained on, in which case they smell kind of like a slimy basement.
angeladegroot
Oct. 22nd, 2008 01:49 pm (UTC)
I replied last night, but don't see my entry. Guess there was a snafu of sorts, so I'll repeat myself.

The dry leaves I sniffed smelled a little peppery, kind of spicy. Slimy basement is not a good smell.
kellyrfineman
Oct. 23rd, 2008 12:58 am (UTC)
I'm glad the outings helped. I think that sniffing things is close enough to tasting them for writerly purposes, unless it's something wonderful like homemade brownies with walnuts and white chocolate chips . . .
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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