Writing Recharge — We Can All Use One Now and Then

Got out of the house and visited with Gothicdweller for a little while today. She’s working on an R&R, and I’m really proud of her.

We got to talking about how we both love New Orleans. It’s a personal recharge for me. There’s just something about the atmosphere and life –past and present– that pulses through that city like no other.

Every writer needs to have somewhere special to retreat and recharge. I don’t care if it’s a short trip to completely different surroundings, a walk in the woods or along the beach at sunrise or sunset, or to sink nose deep in a bubble bath. I have enough of a connection to New Orleans that it’s my retreat.

I can close my eyes and describe stepping down the two shallow grey stone steps into Jackson Square, the sun beating down so hard the umbrellas of the tarot and palm readers are a welcome oasis of shade. The height and facade of surrounding buildings, some with wrought iron witches wheels and harp-shaped shutters, some with columns. Jackson eternally mounted on his steed, mists drifting chill across your skin from the fountain, stately live oaks stretching gnarled branches overhead, all surrounded by wrought iron fences. The musicians and street performers on the lowest level, the flower cart lady, the water xylophone man, the metaphysical people, the artists.

The dull sheen of the stone steps and floor of the Square in the glistening rain, the glow of the street lamp globes shrunken and  muted by falling moisture.

Or a moon lit night walk, steps ringing off the slate pathway of Pirates Alley, deep in shadows cast by St. Louis cathedral. You can’t help but listen for disembodied murmurs and watch for the flitting ghosts of Jean Lafitte and his fellow pirates, men who kept the city alive by selling  their ill-gotten wares there. If the ghosts are uncooperative, it’s still entertaining to listen to the priests chastise the vampire wannabes and gothic youth from behind the cathedral gates. They ignore the admonitions, black-garbed figures darting through shadows between pools of light, their youthful laughter floating in the humid air.

I can tell you about the bustle of the French Market, the rich scents of cafe au lait and beignets from Cafe Du Monde, clanging trolley car rides through the Garden District. The clip-clop of a horse-drawn carriage ride, the droning voice of the driver regaling passengers with the city’s colorful history. Then there are the  freighters slipping like behemoths up and down the Mississippi Riverfront, sounding long mournful blasts as they prepare to pass on the one whistle or two whistle side of other ships. The haunting notes of the Calliope that announces the departure of the paddle-wheeler river boat. Savory burgers topped with cool slices of avocado at Yo Mama’s, a quick stop at Reverend Zombie’s for books, candles and incense or to start a Haunted History Tour, all near each other on St. Peter. The midnight opening of The Dungeon, the Vampire hangout on Toulouse, different crowds on multiple levels. I can tell you about getting off the beaten path, back to the wall and staring down would be muggers, knife held low in my hand; a friend swinging the hell out of the buckle end of a camera strap in a pretty respectable imitation of Jackie Chan.

Ethnic foods from so many cultures, Voodoo shops, swamp tours, Cemetery Tours and Marie Leveau, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans. The Louisiana Museum, the Cabildo, the Mardi Gras Museum, and Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, the oldest bar in the U.S.. Rich in history, there’s something in this city for everyone.

For a writer, it’s a paradise of fact, fiction and nuance. I’ll be headed there next weekend. Visit with my metaphysical friends, indulge in multiple culinary delights, absorb unique insights and landmarks to use in my next book.

You now know my secret getaway. I’d like to know yours. What do you do and where do you go to recharge?

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12 Responses

  1. I love New Orleans as well. It has featured in one of my manuscripts out on submission now AND I’m starting a new WIP that the very first scene is in New Orleans on St. Charles Street. I think N.O. is the most European of our cities and since I love Europe, it speaks to my soul.

    I knew each and every place you described. I notice you didn’t talk about the stale beer and vomit scent that permeates the air in the Quarter.

  2. Um, that would be more Bourbon Street in the early morning hours. LOL Especially on weekends, after parades, or winning the Superbowl! But I do have it in my manuscripts for authenticity!

    I love places like Duson, Lafaeyette, Chauvin, and all the deep Bayou towns, too. Picked up a little Cajun French in them. Incidentally, Cajun French still used there today is probably closest to the French actually spoken in sixteenth century Europe, unchanged, uncorrupted. That’s why it’s similar, yet so different from the Continental French in Europe today. A tiny version of a language time capsule!

  3. You need to tell me when you come down here again! Chauvin is in my area! LOL

    Okay, recharging for me is on the boat with my brother-in-law. We’ll hit Pointe-aux-Chene, Montegut, Cocodrie, Chauvin for specs or red fish. Out there on that boat (in spite of my many misadventures), I can just be. Absorb the beauty that is my “backyard” and listen to silence. It’s…wonderfully relaxing and when I get back on dry land I usually have ideas for my stories.

    • LOL I have to say I LOVE your recharge! You mentioned some of my favorite fishing spots!

      And I usually come home with my nose sunburned enough I break the habit of rubbing it while thinking– at least for a few days.

      (Do you use the new fangled baits, or stick to the tried-and-true shad rigs for specs? In the photo album on my wesite, there’s a pic somewhere of me holding a red fish I caught in Mississippi!)

      • I only use minnows or shrimp. I didn’t get a picture with my red fish, my brother-in-law would’ve made a face at me, but it was the biggest fish I’ve ever caught. 25″! Red fish are fun to catch, so exciting! LOL And yes, by mid-summer, I have a fisherman’s tan: white forehead and raccoon eyes, tanned from the nose down and then the farmer’s tan on my arms and neck, LOL

  4. New Orleans scares me. I’ve seen True Blood. 🙂

    • *Shivers!* Love True Blood! If we all met up to wander around for a day and part of a night, would it still bother you? We really need a group trip to New Orleans. Safety in numbers. And Crucifixes and garlic!

  5. Now I got me a craving to go on a road trip. Think I might take the kidlets to the zoo soon. Great post Runere

    • You need some mommy time too, Mercy! I could show you some *cough* working examples of your genre! lol

      Or maybe a bar with restraint cuffs on chains discreetly hung from the ceiling! Freaked a guy out when we took him and the barmaid started swinging from the cuffs behind the bar! LOL Harmless fun at the time. (I knew her and set him up!) But the look on his face . . . book worthy!

  6. *snort* Go, Rita Bay! I love the way you think! We’ll have a pair of 9’s between us then! lol

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