Choose Your Own Adventure

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 September’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 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).

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  • Reply Tocalabocina April 6, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    I find inspiration in childhood memories, scotch, the South, middle class guilt, sex, Cohen, Close, colored glass, eucalyptus trees and emotional disability.

    But mostly I just write about boys, career dissatisfaction, and occassionally hasbrowns.

  • Reply Kati April 6, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Try working the night shift as a cashier in a really crappy grocery store. That will give you fodder for years to come.

  • Reply Adria April 6, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    Drive two hours outside of the city and watch people at a gas station.

    I don't know, I haven't been able to write anything lately either.

  • Reply Juliette April 6, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    My blog is sort of a personal style/diary/musings/writing blog but I would love to make it more of a travel blog. Traveling to new places always inspires me to write and I really hope I can seek out new adventures in the future to write about.

    -Juliette WhereForArtThouRomeo

  • Reply fairyquitecontrary April 6, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Uncomfortable experiences is a good one. I find an excruciatingly boring day a good motivation. It wills me into creating something…anything more interesting. A means to improving my crappy day!

  • Reply Wynn Wygal April 6, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Sounds like you could fulfill all of your proposed adventures with a single tab of LSD.

    Mostly I talk about sex and college. I tend to find inspiration by mocking strangers, my close friends, and – most importantly – myself. I am worried that my future employers will see my blog and deem me a hooligan. I don't know if that answered your question.

  • Reply Nadster April 6, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    When I was just 16 and was cruising around the city telling my mom "we were going to a movie" we drove to the nearest small town to visit my friends boyfriend. We went to the lake for a bit and drove back to the small town when my friend had to pee. We backroaded it in a ditch to drive to the hospital to use there bathroom upon which we got my friends parents car stuck on the tracks. We had to go to the local small town bar to get some guys to pull the car off. To end off the night I was home early and my mom thanked me for being on time…

  • Reply April April 6, 2010 at 5:43 pm


    1. I am SO that jerk.

    2. I'VE BEEN TO MARFA!!! True story. My sister used to live in Alpine, TX, and when she gave birth to the first of her spawn, I had to drive through Marfa to get to Alpine, er, her significant other drove, I just rode. (You want an uncomfortable experience, try riding in a car for 4 or 5 or 6 hours with someone you dated first and is now engaged to your sis. Your twin sis. Awkward!)

    3. I SO want to move to Iowa (or somewhere else just as remote) and wear prairie dresses and leather boots and reminisce about long lost love. I'm having a hard time convincing others that this is a good plan. (I've been to Fredricksburg, in fact, I lived near it… not that great.)

    4. My writing inspiration comes from lack of sleep, desperation, and the feeling inadequacy compared to those around me (like my twin, who has two kids, her own home and a fiance. Me? I got none of that. Not that I see that as a problem, per se, but in the eyes of my family…). And whiskey. lots and lots of whiskey.

    Good luck with your inspiration!

  • Reply Freelance Pallbearer April 6, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    Get lost a mile into a corn field at night and hear a baby scream. Be attacked by a herd of goats with massive testicles on the boarder of Italy, Switzerland, France in the Alps. Become constipated after brain surgery. Have a homeless Milwaukee native tell you smutty jokes in a park and when he's done watch an unmounted police horse almost get hit by a car and escape over a bridge, to be followed by a pudgy little officer running aimless. Try to steal eggs from a rooster as a child and get chased across the yard. Be in the room when a family member dies. Read poetry over the phone. Get drunk on St Patty's Day, stumble to a hospital parking lot stairwell and tell passers by that you are an organ donor. Play harmonica in Italy to make money so you can have a roof over your head for the night. Buy a mortgage and want to move out during a housing crisis. Turn down sex from a beautiful person because you have to take a shit. Explain to teenage Parisians in Barcelona why they don't like America. Try to drown yourself in Ireland on election night and your birthday screaming, "I'll sacrifice myself for Ireland." Make out with your English professor. Listen to Neutral Milk Hotel on an airplane over a sea. Get challenged by somebody to out-drink them, they kiss you, and then they call you an asshole. Kick someone in the nuts when they ask for it. Battle rap a group of frat boys, all of them, and win, only to have them put their cigarettes out on your arm. Try to explain what art is. Be a human being that cares about things. Have someone you care about tell you everything you didn't know you wanted to hear for a month. When your boyfriend breaks up with you try to slice your stomach open with shower squeegee while listening to 'Creep' by Radiohead, whoops. I feel like there is more.

  • Reply zachary April 6, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    You can write about misogynist men but you can't grow a beard. Does this make me a subject for your write up? lol..

    Okay, i get a gush of ideas and inspiration when i'm alone by myself. Not that i really look for them but keeping a notebook with me helps when ideas come rushing in. I usually open up my notebook the most in dingy places, sipping coffee, talking to strangers, observing life around me. I'd write them down once i got home, fine tune a little and post them up my blog, sometimes i keep them in my notebook, sometimes i share them on my blog.

  • Reply bard April 6, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    Nudist colony? Just think of all the saggy old people…

  • Reply Benny April 6, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    I usually have plenty of experiences to draw on. Weirdly enough, it's only in certain moods that they rise to the top of my head and I think, "That's worth writing about." Usually only when I'm alone and have nothing specific that I need to figure out.

    That's the best I've figured out so far. I admire people who have a clear understanding of what makes their writing selves tick. Because that whole thing about quantity? I think it's only semi-true. If I'm in a bad mood and I force myself to write, what I write is often still not that good.

  • Reply Hipstercrite April 6, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    @Tocalabocina- Those are wonderful memories/feelings to draw from! I want them!

    @Kati- Oooh….sometimes I think about doing a night shift just for the fuck of it.

    @Adria- Have you done that before?

    @Juliette- I 100% agree with you. I think traveling is the BEST inspiration. I need to do more. 🙁

    @Fairy- I wish a boring day inspired me! It makes me want to go insane!

    @Wynn- Or X!

    @Nadster- That sounds like the premise of a Disney teen movie!

    @April- Can I have your life?

    @Freelance-You're so good with descriptive words and phrases. I wish I was as imaginative 🙁

    @Zachary- I need to keep a journal. I try to, but I always forget to use it.

    @Bard- Excellent idea!

    @Benny- I'm kind of the same way. I truly don't know when inspiration hits!

  • Reply Freelance Pallbearer April 6, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    Sometimes I wish it was my imagination.

  • Reply Hannah Miet April 7, 2010 at 5:56 am

    Eating at restaurants alone
    my clitoris
    insomnia, talking
    to my brother about girls, or
    the time I did coke during work
    masturbating during work
    picturing others masturbating during
    homeless people with political views
    the people I meet on trains to other cities
    the people I meet on buses to other cities
    other cities
    New York City
    post it notes from past lives
    finding someone who makes me feel understood
    the people I meet on the internet
    the way children explain things
    the way insane people explain things

  • Reply Karen April 7, 2010 at 7:22 am

    For me, mostly getting out of weird situations than being in one haha.
    Being up at 4AM procrastinating and wondering why I'm up.
    Sitting in my Prius with my iPod, stuck in the parking lot of my university for 2 hours because there's not enough time to drive home and back to class (time to daydream).
    Being back in Ithaca with my boy and out of the OC– I complained a lot there, being homesick and thrown in a new culture where I was one of 10 asians there, but looking back, I was influenced by so much of that lifestyle and how conservative californians are destroying the earth! It's smell of spring, loving 50 degree weather, piney goodness and cool wind. (essentially wanting what I can't have– it's an affliction.)
    lastly, sexy daydreams about NOT my boyfriend.

  • Reply Sunshine April 7, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    Just go have a *crazy adventure*. My friend and I are from a teeny tiny town in flat, dry, boring eastern Oregon. We stay on the lookout for abandoned buildings (to break into), nearby hills we haven't climbed yet. We go scavenging down by the river for abandoned hobo junk. Um, midnight river walks. We sneak into playgrounds at night and swing and act out plays.

    We always come home with cool pictures and stories. Also, having an adventure with a friend allows for a lot of conversation, which can also be awesome writing fuel.

    Anyhow, I like your ideas. I bet there's a ton of adventuring opportunities in Austin that are just waiting for a crazy gal like yourself to jump on. I bet there are rooftops to explore and walmart parking lots to hold walmart olympics in and ghettos to go boldly wandering.

  • Reply Colleen April 9, 2010 at 1:17 am

    Seems to me you don't have to experience these things firsthand because you have a pretty impressive headstart on all four scenarios.

    The best short stories I've ever written have been based on dreams, and I know you don't want to hear that given that you hate listening to other peoples' dreams, but it's the truth.

  • Reply Rachel Leastlikely April 9, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    the tequila and belligerent misogynist men stories part IS my life, and it's pretty awesome. go for it.

    honestly though, i am currently trying to figure out at what point life experiences aid writing, and at what point they interfere with it.

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