Write What You Love by Guest Blogger Nancy Wood
Write what you love
Nancy Wood, author of Due Date
One of my favorite things to do is get outside and explore. Go for a bike ride, take a walk, go out on a hike. I love to see what’s going on in the neighborhood: who’s remodeling or been doing someone landscaping. What flowers are blooming. But what I really like to do is just get out, and get away from everything. When I go camping now, I avoid campgrounds. My husband and I have a few favorite spots not far from home, out in a national forest. We’ll just throw our tarp on the ground, no tent, and sleep under the stars.
For me, there’s something very freeing about just being outside. No computer. No phone. No lights (though I do have a flashlight so I can read!). Just last week, we were camped in a glorious field of purple lupine, pink clover, and enormous majestic black oaks. The only sounds were woodpeckers hammering, cows lowing, a few flies buzzing around, crows squawking. Bats come out with the dusk, darting like shadows as they searched for bugs. Owls called; coyotes yammered and howled.
So, Nancy, you ask, what’s this got to do with writing?! Well, I try to translate my love of the outdoors to my writing, engaging all the senses: what is the outer shape of that tree I’m looking at and how does it fit into the landscape. Does it remind me of anything? What does the bark feel like? The leaves? What does it smell like? How does the wind sound as it moves through the tree? If I were brave enough to chew on a leaf, what would it taste like?
I am fortunate to live in Santa Cruz, California, a place of uncommon beauty. It’s bordered on three sides by a ring of state parks, local parks, and the natural reserve that’s part of the University of California at Santa Cruz campus. The sweep of the Monterey Bay limits the city to the south. I placed Due Date in Santa Cruz county for a few reasons: I know it well and it’s easy to write. But it also gave me plenty of opportunity get outside and do my own exploring to revisit familiar, beloved landscapes, and also discover new ones. For example, when my character, Shelby, moves to the Santa Cruz mountains, she spends a lot of time outdoors, exploring, walking, discovering. I was able to find a location that matched what I was imagining, visit it, take notes, and then use it as a location in my book.
Now that I’m working on the second book in the series, I’m moving the location slightly to the southern reaches of Santa Cruz county. There’s more agriculture, and the beaches along the bottom curve of the bay are more remote and wild. I’m looking forward to getting outside, exploring, and discovering new landscapes to use as great settings.