I’ve discovered as of late, that my creative output is directly related to the amount of uncomfortable experiences I encounter on a weekly basis (for example, last week’s run-in with my housemate who tried doing her best impression of Danny Bonaduce circa 1989) . When my life is traversing down the proverbial road, resembling a drunk driver looking for the glowing beacon of an all-night Taco Bell, my writing is at it’s peak. When I work 12 hour days and fall asleep in my work clothes at 10PM next to a bottle of Don Juilo, my writing lags. So, in order for me to fulfill the promise I made to myself as I drove east from California to Texas with no plan other than to write, I’m will begin actively seeking out fish-out-of-water scenarios for myself and the sake of my writing.
Here are some examples of what I would like to experience:
-I’ve always wanted to drive through the bayou and “accidently” come across an old Southern Baptist church. A heavenly light will gleam through the clapboard walls and I will join the congregation in enthusiastic gospel singing and pouncing. I will momentarily forget that I don’t know a lick of Biblical prayers and I will mistake my ingestion derived from fried crawfish as Jesus entering my body. I will begin speaking in tongues and will wake up three days later in the backseat of my car with no shoes and fresh stigmata marks.
-Sleep on Skid Row. I almost did this once, but my parents talked me out of it (talk me out of it=threats of coming to L.A. and physically picking me up off the cardboard mat I’d be sleeping on as I shout, “I’m not a bum! I’m a jerk!”, and throwing me into the back seat of their rental car). I’m not making this one up or trying to be all hipsterostentatious (that is a recently discovered breed of dinosaur). There is a homeless shelter in downtown L.A. that will enable naive bourgeoise to do these sort of things.
-Drive to Marfa. Now this is a pretty obtainable goal. I’ve threatened to do it every weekend since moving to Texas over a year ago (Me: “Seriously guys, I’m driving to Marfa this weekend. Alone. Listening to Bruce Springsteen’s “Nebraksa”, ok? I know that Nebraska is a completely different state than Texas, but it seems fitting.” Co-worker: “Lauren, you know that Marfa is an 8 hour drive from Austin, right?” Me: “Fuck me.”)
-Move to a 100 year-old home out in the country-side, wear floral dresses, write in my leather bound notebook by candlelight, and stand at the kitchen window gazing out onto the plains, anticipating the return of my newly armless sweetheart from the Battle of Fredericksburg. OR, move to a shack near the ocean, grow a beard, drink tequila every day, play with a loaded gun, and write belligerent stories about misogynist men.
Now, I don’t want any of you pulling a knife on me or telling me that my car just rolled down the hill and plowed through a couple of homes in order to fulfill my want of uncomfortable situations. That will lead to crapped pants, then confusion, then fury, then me jumping on you like a flying squirrel, then the police having to come and pry me off of you.
I do welcome suggestions though. As fellow writers, what sort of experiences often inspire you? (and I don’t want to hear any of this “When my boyfriend broke up with me and I tried to slice my stomach open with shower squeegee while listening to “Creep” by Radiohead” crap…already heard that one).
Lauren is a writer and professional Jeff Goldblum lover.
Roadtrips and half-crazy veteran uncles. Go for a a drive and stop in at an American Legion, if you haven't got one yourself.
Eight hours isn't bad. I drove 15 hours twice in the span of three days just a few weeks ago. Nebraska's a good album to drive to, at any rate.
I find this same trend in my writing, which is why lately I've been aching to leave my comfort zone.
That being said, I think you should add living in my comfort zone (or somewhere nearby, maybe Brooklyn) for a month to your list of adventures.
I've always wanted to do the Baptist church thing too. You are my long lost twin, I think.
I genuinely love your writing.
Over here they actually have a Big Sleep out, where you can go and sleep with the homeless to find out what it's like and donate money to homeless shelters. I've never done it, though it has appealed to me. I don't know, I'm old enough now to think that every day you can be out of your comfort zone and find something to write about.
Moving to a shack near the ocean is my cup of tea.
Great writing is often either somebody writing about what they know very well or someone you identify with having a fish-out-of-water experience in a world you'd like to know better.
Btw you are already a great writer.
Eric- Excellent suggestion. Seriously. I might try that. Thanks!
Hannah- You and I should totally swap lives for a week. Cause the funny thing is, I ultimately want to be be you (hip, young writer living in NYC).
Hey Hemingway! Good point. I know that my writing gets better the more I age. I honestly don't feel that I will be a truly good writer until I'm 40.
Mysterg- but will you grow the beard?
Ride the bus. Some crazy shit happens on public transportation and there are many great observations to be made.
Wait, if you're growing a beard in a shack, wouldn't the appropriate drink be whisky? Tequila sounds much more suited to the Southwest.
If Tequila is the crux of that scenario, I propose a fishing boat in the Gulf of Mexico instead of a shack by the ocean.
I would love to grow a beard but unfortuantely previous attempts have been patchy at best…so perhaps I will leave it to your bearded lady until you run away and join the circus – now that would be an adventure!