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Mount Orégano
Sue Burke
Bittercon: Vacations, writing, and inspiration 
7th-Aug-2009 03:45 pm
Let me see..

[This is a topic in bittercon, the convention right in your back yard ... rather than being at Worldcon.]

We're not wasting our vacation time in Montreal, but we all (I hope) take vacations. How do they affect our writing?

For me, they've inspired locales for stories, but never stories themselves. But your mileage may vary.

For example, my story "Aliens Love Oranges" was based on my visit to my grandmother in Florida and places we went, including the Kennedy Space Center. But the story is about a young woman in Florida who makes some unusual friends, and no grandmothers appear. In fact, my grandmother being how she was, I didn't have time to think about a story until I got home, but luckily I tend to keep all the tourist brochures, photos, maps, and souvenirs I get on trips, so I could reconstruct the details easily.

In this case, the characters also visit the Kennedy Space Center, and young woman is impressed (as I was) by the authenticity of everything there: this was no Disney amusement park, this was real science, and she was looking for something real in her life. So she decided to reach for the stars, as best she could.

You can find the story here, if you're interested:

What about you? Have vacations inspired or affected your writing? How? Where have you gone, and where would you like to go? For that matter, must a vacation involve a change of locale?

By the way, I'll be away from my computer on Saturday. I'm taking a day-long vacation to enjoy cool mountain breezes and medieval sights in Buitrago de Lozoya, a town near Madrid:

— Sue Burke

7th-Aug-2009 05:14 pm (UTC)
I find that travelling opens my eye for how deeply I am steeped in the culture I have around me all the time - I expect fields to look like _this_ and doors like _that_ and shops to open _then_... and you go somewhere else and everything is different. That makes me question my assumptions about the cultures of my protagonists - what is their world *really* like?

It's a good exercise to go somewhere else and to just wander around and see what you can pick up, about the unwritten rules, about the quirky details that define the place like doorknockers and how people lay out their gardens, about how a genuinely medieval city smells different from one that has been rebuilt medieval-style.
9th-Aug-2009 08:43 pm (UTC)
What's the castle in your user pic?
12th-Aug-2009 10:51 am (UTC)
Carcassonne. My Mum used to bring me T-shirts from her holidays, and I just had to go and see the place for myself - it was a pretty spontaneous decision, and a great short holiday.

The one in this picture is Carew, in South Wales, which actually made it into my current WIP: I needed some desperately unglamorous archaeology for my protagonist, so I got her to excavate the tidal mill at Carew when some of the people she's dealing with were digging at Troy.
13th-Aug-2009 10:56 am (UTC)
Lovely pictures. I did some digging as a volunteer with a group called Archeological Rescue in Wisconsin when I lived there. Mostly we investigated Indian encampments, and it was interesting overall, though a day of digging, as you know, is: one centimeter troweled from the surface of one square meter, sifted for rock flakes and pottery fragments, noted, and bagged. Next to a corn field in the hot sun. With mosquitoes.
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