It's a cliche, isn't it, that you return to some place of your past, visit and remember.
I've been back here before but driving the roads, I see them more from the driver's point of view. I remember all the curves, narrow bridges, tunnels and intersections. Walking and biking them as a child, I never gave thought to the driver perspective. I didn't see the blind curves and narrow shoulders and limited space. I didn't appreciate how anxious drivers must have been, coming around one of those corners and encountering a couple kids walking. We tried to move over and stay out of the way but there's not much space there.
The neighborhood was 'a planned community'. The houses are faux colonial, split levels, and contemporary ranch and two story buildings. They and the roads are engraved in my brain. I remember people's addresses and last names. Even shortcuts are sharp and clear. But then I was young, I learned them early.
It was fun driving past my past homes, friends and relatives' homes, old girlfriends places. The bricks are still there, red, burnt orange, tan, charcoal, along with the yards and driveways, and the aluminum siding but the cars are new. Some siding have acquired new colors but little has changed. The trees are taller and the people are probably different.
My mother knows the woman who lives in our old ranch home. They were co-workers when the woman bought it.
When I re-traveled these roads, I thought of novel writing. There are parallels. When you know the paths, the details have changed, so there's exploration, but there's a large comfort zone. The topography is familiar.
Novel writing for the first time is an exploration of a new place. Writing a second novel is like that to me. I might be wrong or simplistic but it seems like I understand the turns to be taken. I'm less concerned about the roads being followed. The details are different but the path is familiar. It's not bewildering for me but a fondly remembered place. Yet the novels are not similar. Their characters have little in common. Even the time periods are different.
Just like anything - writing SQL routines, creating Power Point slides, navigating the Internet, tearing apart and rebuilding a computer or a car engine - traveling known neighborhoods and writing a novel share basic foundations of understood patterns, routines, and expectations. But each time, you're presented with change. It's a matter of addressing the changes and differences that makes it all challenging and keeps it interesting. Pleasant memories and past successes help, while experience provides new perspectives and riches.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com