Last weekend I got the sad news that one of my grandmothers had passed away. I grew up in Maine and every summer we’d spend a week or two at my grandparents’ house. They had an in-ground pool in the back yard that kept the family entertained all day. We usually went up around the Fourth of July, and watched the fireworks being shot up over Fort Halifax in Winslow, just down the street from where my Dad grew up.
My grandmother loved to entertain. She was a social butterfly, for sure and could talk your ear off about nothing in particular. As I got older we didn’t always see eye to eye. I wanted to wear ripped jeans and have pink hair. She wanted me to wear skirts, lose weight, get a boyfriend, and go to church. But, despite our differences, she was always easy to get along with and happy to be around her family.
Without much notice, I bought a ticket to head up North for the funeral. It’s always tough figuring out how to pack when you’re going from warm to frigidly cold weather (or vice versa) and when you’re too cheap to check your bags. So clothes first, then an ereader, then a notebook, then my tablet with a wireless keyboard.
The first new place I wrote was the airplane. I’ve been working out this story in my head for a while. I’d written the first chapter before Nanowrimo and I keep thinking about it, so I wrote the beginning of Chapter 2 on the flight between Austin and Philadelphia. I picked up the narrator’s voice and personality so quickly and easily. She slipped right on like a comfy sweater.
Writing on the plane was interesting; it’s a much more public writing spot than I’m used to. I go to a weekly writing group at a coffee shop, but that doesn’t feel public, because everyone else is writing –focused on their own work. Pulling out the tray table and setting my screen and keyboard in it, opening a word document, sort of announces to the world, “I’m writing! I’m a writer!” Regardless of the exposure, though, I got a great start to this new part of the story.
The next new place I wrote was at my Mom’s house. I guess it’s not totally new, since I grew up there and wrote a lot as a kid. But it’s new to this phase of my writing life. It was -2 degrees and the outside was blanketed in snow. You could see deer tracks imprinted in the snow in the back yard. None of this is new, exactly, but seeing it with adult eyes makes it different. I set up shop at the kitchen table, where I curled up with a big cup of coffee and a nearly panoramic view of the snow and the quiet of a sparsely populated town with no highway in the backyard.
Here, I lost myself. I ended up writing and writing. I think I wrote 4 pages, single spaced, in about 2 hours. The story, the voice, the feeling, it just came to me. I felt totally inspired by this place. It almost sold me on visiting Maine more often in the winter. Almost.
I love my writing desk at home. I love knowing where my supplies are and what to expect when I sit down. But I definitely uncovered a hidden source of inspiration in moving from place to place. I know I’ll always enjoy the writing space I built at home, but now I know that I can gather ideas and a sense of writing purpose in any location.
RIP Mimi, love you and miss you everyday.