I want to talk about roadtrips.
My trip was one of those clouds-part moments. It was a freelance gig for a magazine. Believe it or not, I got paid to take a seven-day, all-expenses paid trip with a buddy. We rode Amtrak to St. Louis, then rented the biggest fucking truck Hertz had and headed south. The article was a lifestyle piece about, well, two guys in a big truck. The idea was to see what would happen if we went searching for the heart of rock and roll by reversing the route the blues had taken north, so we stopped at every juke joint and back alley bar we could find along the way.
It was great. And better still, it was on the clock: every cover charge, every ice-cold Abita, every half-slab.
But a funny thing happened as we rode, something I hadn’t expected. We stuck to rural routes and state highways, rolling past small industrial towns and fields of cotton and sugarcane. We were on an interstate only once, on the way into New Orleans, because that was the only route our tattered map showed. We kept the windows down and our iPods spinning.
And with every mile, I found that I was opening up in a way I hadn’t in a while. My imagination was sparking differently. I was feeling looser and more free, able to toy with ideas the same way you might idly doodle on a piece of hotel stationery—not committing to anything, just…playing.
It was gold. I had more fun exploring ideas for novels and stories than I have in a long time, just leaning back with my bare feet out the window and my head in another world.
Maybe it was time spent away from my email and phone. Maybe it was the space of the landscape, the majestic breadth and sweep that city-dwellers tend to forget. Maybe it was my creative batteries letting me know that they’d recharged, recovered from finishing the second novel.
Whatever it was, I liked it, and I’m going to remember it. The next time I find myself creatively constipated, instead of straining and sweating, I’m getting in the car and heading south.
Anybody had a similar experience?
What do you do that frees your mind to wander?