Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Kicking Around In My Home Town

Click to play this Smilebox photobook: New Bern Trip
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Henry and I took our visiting friends on a walk around New Bern, NC. It was a great day, not too hot considering it was August. I decided to be a tourist myself for the day and snapped a lot of pictures. It made me think that even in one's hometown, or birthplace as New Bern is for me, one can still try to see things with fresh eyes. This can be especially important for a writer. When you're used to an area, everyday occurrences, objects or accents don't register as anything out of the ordinary. But, when you pretend to yourself that you are new to the town, people take on new life, buildings are suddenly full of character, not old.
Henry and I have also joked before about being alien anthropologists and studying life here in Goldsboro. This can be helpful on a particularly trying day and also brings in a sense of humor to a bad situation. Some of my favorite writers are the ones who include minute detail in their writing. I don't mean that they go on for pages about a brown paper bag. But a bag's origin may be identified by naming the store it came from (as in American Gods by Neil Gaiman). This fleshes out the story, making it more realistic.
I saved the wrapper from a necklace Henry bought me on my trip. I want the name of the store if I decide that the heroine I'm currently developing makes a trip to New Bern. I also liked the vase in the window of that store and took its picture to help remember details. I'm thinking about a way to include that as well.
As an exercise for writing, just for fun, take a trip to a place that you're familiar with; take a notebook and/or camera. Look at the stores, people, plants and trees as if you've never been there before. How many details can you find that you never saw or noticed before in the last twenty or one hundred times you walked down that same street? I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

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