When I was a child, I dreamed of traveling the world.
I grew up about seven miles outside of a small town in the Midwest. It was common to get stuck behind farmers driving tractors, hay balers and combines on the way home from the grocery store.
In retrospect, it was a bucolic childhood, full of wide-open spaces, tomatoes from our garden and lush cornfields that stretched all the way to the woods.
The knowledge that came from reading the monthly National Geographic that came to our mailbox was my first glimpse of another world. A mysterious place where people looked different than anyone I knew, who ate exotic food, and had different cultures, religions and fascinating traditions.
Experiences are an integral part of what has made me a better writer. Reading books like, Lord of the Flies, The Secret Garden, and The Silver Chair as a young person, having foreign exchange students live with us for a school year, and hosting international PhD candidates at our home during the winter break, everything enthuses my writing.
It is wondrous to recall that my first novel, Carolina Spirit was finished on an Arabian horse farm in Louisville, KY. I read the final chapter aloud to my true love beneath the oak tree in this photo.
My MA thesis was inspired by a Pictish stone that is so magical, I chased after it to a dirt road in The Highlands of Scotland. I could go on and on about how immersion enthuses art.
To pen stories with depth and meaning, a writer needs more than the ability to create a lyrical sentence.
We must divine the essence of what our characters feel, smell and experience. It never dawned on me util this morning that having a beer and eating a fish taco in the Baja is research. It's the best kind and it also gets us away from our desks for a few days.
Writer to writer, I challenge you to take your words deeper on your next project.
Save your money, and go to Morocco, China, or Argentina. Choose a place, plan and dream about it. Meet the locals, eat their food and learn about their culture. If you simply cannot leave town, visit the county jail, a homeless shelter, the hospital or do a ride along with the local fire department.
Do something different than your normal and talk to people face-to-face about what they know, how they really feel and learn about what they love.
If you are shy, bring a gregarious friend and let them do the talking while you take brilliant notes.
I haven’t been to China yet, and was quite nervous to write Moon Zinc, a short story about a girl named Moon Lotus who is only fifteen, who has dropped out of school and works long hours in a factory. It was difficult to write, mainly because I knew almost nothing about China before I began. One day I would very much like to follow in Moon’s footsteps and see the trees flower, taste noodles from a street vendor and watch people do Tai-Chi as the sun comes up.
The life of a girl like Moon was so different than mine, I spent months researching. If you decide to read the story on Amazon or for free here on Kobo, Apple iBooks and Nook https://books2read.com/u/mqDOoO (which also awarded me a writing fellowship this past year,) part of it’s strength and message came from a heart-breaking confession a stranger shared with me on an airplane. Reviews are always deeply appreciated.
Remember that books and stories have intrinsic value in society to educate, inspire, reveal another world, value system or culture, defeat ignorance (YES!) and most importantly, to make us feel like we’re not alone. As creators, we must use due diligence and explore everything possible to remain open-minded, respectful and be authentic.
Please do your research, listen more than you speak and befriend people who have a different perception than your own. Then come home, turn off your social media and write your ass off.
Follow and engage with me on Twitter @Bibiana1Krall
Let’s chat about your field trip and what it did for your writing. I can’t wait for the best part, which is to hear about the new friends you’ve made along the way.
Until next time, find your Peace, then Love, Hustle and Read or Write. Xox
If you enjoy this post, I always appreciate your comments, follows and shares. Now get offline and go write something amazing.
"Immersive writing in search of the heroine."