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09 February 2015

A neighborhood walk and getting unstuck

Yesterday was unseasonably warm for Georgia - into the 60s! So Stan and I took Bernie for a walk. It had been a while since we'd been able to enjoy a leisurely sojourn outside, and it reminded me of how good these moments are for my creativity. When I suffer from writer's block or get stuck on a certain scene or puzzle in my writing, I go take a walk!
     In my neighborhood, a walk means going up what we affectionately call "poop alley" where everybody walks their dogs (hence the name). It's a dead end road just outside my neighborhood. There's only one house on it, so the half mile is mostly trees and rocks and banks covered with chipmunk dwellings. It also happens to be one Bernie's favorite places. We walk all the way to the end where the road meets the local elementary school before turning around. He loves it and so do I.
     I can't tell you how many times I've made this walk, trying to shake loose a problem or idea. Something about watching the birds diving through the canopy, my dog sniffing at invisible (to me) treasures, and the light filtering through various shades of green - it loosens the creative cogs.
     It also doesn't hurt that stories are waiting to be had on our little walk. For instance, meet "The Don." This is a male tom cat who lives a few houses up the street from us (and is one of the reasons our cat is an indoor cat). He is the boss of the street and I've seen him face off with many cats over the years.
     His ears used to stand up straight, until about a year ago. I'm sure some lesser cat required some straightening out. Ever since then, The Don has been much calmer, crooked ear and all - confident in his quiet control of our street as he basks in the sunshine on his concrete driveway.
Ironically, he's actually quite friendly - to humans. And he does get along with other cats, as long as they don't question his authority.
      We actually don't know his real name. But for us, for years, he has been "The Don." There's a story there, which I'll write one of these days. Or he'll become a character in a larger story. At any rate, do you see what I mean?
     Squirrels chasing each other, hawks soaring above, gentle breezes and dancing seedpods - they all have stories. Where did they come from, where are they going, what is the relationship, and why? They can all help shake your own story loose even if it's just adding some dimension to an already existing story, character, or setting.
     So, if you find yourself stuck with your writing - take a walk!
     Photos by Stan Dulemba.

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