Posted by: penpatience | October 2, 2013

TRAVEL BUILDS CHARACTER(S)

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Writers Words: “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” –Elmore Leonard

Note: I’m pleased to announce that my Essay, “Whatever the Cost” was chosen as one of twenty winners in the Saturday Evening Post “Tribute to our Troops” contest :http://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/2013/08/23/humor/fun-games/tribute-to-our-troops-essay-contest-winners.html

OCTOBER 2013 MONTHLY MUSING

TRAVEL BUILDS CHARACTER(S)

In late August, my partner and I hopped in the car, stopped briefly in Lancaster, Pennsylvania then headed south to visit family in Tampa, Florida. Car rides can be tedious, hard on the back and body and boring when many interstate exits begin to look the same. However, if you’re a writer when a person or place catches your attention out comes the pad and pen to jot down a few notes about the “aha” moment just experienced. A few “aha moments” from the trip:

AHA We were sitting at the motel’s breakfast buffet in Lancaster, Pa. when a middle-aged woman in a dark pink, long skirted dress approached a table where a man was already seated (I assumed her husband), an untouched pancake and sausage breakfast in front of him. I immediately noticed the woman’s cherubic, rosy cheeks, and the enchanting smile on her face. I already knew from the Amish tour enjoyed yesterday that this lady was Mennonite, not Amish. Her white organdy cap atop her head was stitched square in the back; an Amish woman’s cap is heart-shaped. She returned from the buffet, breakfast in hand, and she and the assumed husband began to eat breakfast. His phone rang. Dressed in jeans and sport shirt like many professional men on vacation, he left the room phone glued to his ear. Gone for over fifteen minutes, she ate her breakfast alone while-his breakfast grew colder. I doubted that he would eat it when he returned. I mused. Perhaps the cherubic cheeks and Mennonite culture might find their way into one of my characters.

Back on the road after breakfast, before long we came to Interstate 95 that would take us very close to our destination; Virginia and North Carolina whizzed by.

AHA   When we were driving through South Carolina I saw a sign, “Coosahatchie-one Mile.”  Coosahatchie? When we passed the Exit, I rechecked and verified the spelling of what I envisioned to be a small town in South Carolina. Perhaps one of my protagonists lived in Coosahatchie.

However, it was when we stopped for gas and lunch in a small town (I didn’t notice the name) in Georgia that I met the most unforgettable character of the trip.  Among the many chain restaurants on the main street was a lone, local diner and we stopped there for lunch.

AHA  The waitress, middle-aged, a few wrinkles on a ruddy, sun-kissed face, black motorcycle T-shirt, and rumpled blue jeans approached the table and asked, “what y’all havin?”  After some idle chit-chat back and forth we ordered lunch. After lunch she asked if we were going to stop at the bike rally “dow’n the road apiece.” After a “y’all have a nice day,” a nice tip (we loved her), we were back on the road again.

I pictured this “y’all” gal in a small diner in Coosahatchie, South Carolina serving a Reuben sandwich, fries, and drink to a lady in a long, pink dress with matching cherubic cheeks …

 

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