In the past four days, I've driven 1077 miles in 5 states. A couple things I noticed:
~Kentucky has very few billboards (especially compared to my home state of Missouri). I enjoy driving so much more when the scenery is rolling hills and those great white horse farm fences as opposed to signs offering adult video superstores juxtaposed with warning signs about how I'm going to hell. I mean, really, how do they know that about me for sure?
~Kentucky also had two official state signs that intrigued me. One was a plaque stating that on May 14, 1988 a fatal bus crash occurred on this site (I drove particularly carefully for the next few miles). But, it had my writer's mind going--what were the specifics? How do the families feel when/if they drive over this road? The other sign made me chuckle. It stated that the next exit would take me to Big Bone Lick State Park. That'd be fun to use in a book someday, I thought. If I wrote erotica (I don't).
~I sing great in the car. I figure it must be the acoustics.
My trip took me to the Southern Kentucky Book Fest which was a blast. I got to hang out with writer friends I've met at other conferences and also met some other great new writers. We were the ones hanging at the bar. I then extended my trip to go up to Columbus, Ohio to visit my son who's a student at THE Ohio State University. I stayed at his apartment (student housing has not changed since you were a student, no matter when that was). I took him to the grocery store and out to dinner. We had a blast; it's so incredibly satisfying to see your child turning into a great adult. (I also felt very middle-aged as we walked around the campus. It was a gorgeous, sunny, warm weekend afternoon and there were kids playing volleyball and laying out on blankets everywhere supposedly studying. The girls wore bikins and the boys wore shorts with no shirts--another aspect of college life that hasn't changed. Oh, and I got hit in the head by a boy throwing a frisbee. He apologized. My son laughed and suggested that perhaps he was trying to "hit on me" after, of course, he made sure I was uninjured.)
Given how many miles I knew I'd be driving, and how many books I'll never get around to reading, it would have been smart of me to rent some books on tape (if nothing else to distract me from the road signs). Alas, I'm not that organized. But, I actually like planning out my travel CDs. This time I was heavy on Springsteen (but that's standard for me). I also threw in some old Mary Chapin Carpenter, Jackson Browne, and Billy Joel. They tell some good stories, those folks. And that's what it's all about--whether it's those of us who publish our stories in books or the songwriters who put out music. The turn of phrase, The metaphor. What's included and what's left out and up to the reader's/listener's imagination. That's where the art comes in, where the craftsperson really shines.
And of course, when I'm rolling down the highway, signing "Thunder Road" along with Bruce, I feel 17 again. There's something to be said for that as well.
Happy Trails . . .