The first time I posted this I forgot to add a title.

I hate to bump Shannon's announcement, and so I'll post the invitation right at the top here so I feel better about it.

So, I've decided to write a book about my vacation. It's kind of a silly idea because I really can't even write a good essay yet, let alone a coherent series of structured accounts with strong themes and ideas woven throughout. Maybe I'll just call it a pamphlet in order to mask the certain inadequacy that the thing'll scream at the reader.

The thing is, this vacation would certainly make a decent book. It's got a good, strong number of main characters (5 is a good number,) drama (Will Dr. Habib make arrangements with Dad over the phone about what classes Dad can teach in the fall?!), conflict (definitely more later), and character development. At the least, it's interesting because it's about me (you can all groan here.) On this trip, my family has gone back East and visited some old relatives and family homesteads and Great-grandpa's slowly-collapsing farmhouse on the hill. We're facing important challenges and opportunities for growth and I'm also trying to learn while observing. It's a good time to develop, and so why not examine it through writing?

The trip isn't over yet (we've still got two more weeks on the road,) and I'm constantly and furiously typing notes into my iPod Touch and then e-mailing them to myself. "Listening to NPR tales of Afghan bullets and rain begins. It pelts the windshield harder and faster until the smell fafts in through the vents. Cows quickly trot over a green hill as a herd. Lightening scars the sky. The road fogs with splash and disappears from sight. Hammering down on the windshield. It breathes in for a moment and we pass an RV. Still raining but at least we can see."
Stuff like that-- means something to me, probably not to you yet. That's not the point. I've just been keeping notes about what I've been experiencing.

I guess the whole point of this post is this: What should I be looking for and specially aware of as I'm on this trip? How do I find my themes? Do I wait until after or look for them now? And how do I take notes and observations without artificially guiding what's going on? How do I keep it real?


Sky said...

Quick, thrown-at-you advice? Jot down pieces of dialog--verbatim--from people at cafes, gas stations, etc. (you'll capture the flavor a place faster this way), from your family (worry later about offending them),and sharp internal dialog--not the meandering kind. Listen carefully.

Time wise? Capture now (or your perspective and memory will shift away from the reality); rewrite later.

Eric James said...

I concur.