Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Island in the Sky

Believe it or not, the adjustment to living in Las Vegas has been a little difficult for me. I feel confident that this is where we're supposed to be, but I am continually exposed to a lot of what makes Vegas cheap and sad. Which sucks.

I know. I have only been here for two months, so who am I to criticize. But it is hard living in a place that builds its economy and its personality ("What happens in Vegas" and so forth) on vice. It is hard moving from a place where my personal philosophy was frequently reaffirmed to a place where most people find that philosophy quaint, at best, and in some cases downright ridiculous.

It is hard being LA's weekend mistress.

Anyway, to the point: Since we've been here, we've kept hearing about this mythical "Mt Charleston," a supposed "real" mountain in the vicinity of Vegas. Haha, I thought. I grew up in real mountains, and what I see around Vegas are dry craggy hills, at best. "But there's a ski resort on this mountain!" So what. I'll believe it when I see it.

Today, we had our last day off before Travis starts school again, and we decided to check out this Mountain of Charleston. So northward we went. Up past the strip, northward, westward, and out of town completely. Then we turned left, went several thousand feet straight up a gentle incline.




And suddenly yucca trees gave way to pines. The temperature dropped steadily. The air was fresh and comfortingly thin. The ground was almost--dare I say it?--green! We arrived at the base of a long loop trail (which we only did about 3/4 mile of, being unprepared) and just stared and stared and stared. It was like...a REAL MOUNTAIN.
One of the signs described it as an "Island in the Sky." An ecosystem so isolated and so unlike the surrounding Mojave Desert, that there are species of plants here found nowhere else on earth.

And the best part is, for the first time, I thought--I really thought--I could love living here. I mean, not just in a "it feels like we're on vacation here" way. But in a visceral way.


Guys, this place is totally LEGIT.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Storycrafting

I'm starting to get back into writing, now that I've got time. Now that I've graduated and I don't have school breathing down my neck. I have at least two manuscripts in the works right now, and it is time to get back to at least one of them.

One thing I've discovered over the past several years is that writing takes time. Duh. But I mean, it really, really takes time. Much of that time is spent not actually typing, but just thinking. Mentally planning. I can't just sit down and start blipping something out and expect it to be great. I have to plan my characters. I have to get to know them in my head, and then on paper in a kind of character summary. Then I know what they would do in any given circumstances. And only then can I begin to write their story.

I'm writing the story of a girl who goes through a spiritual journey. I feel like I can tell her story with some degree of authenticity, because it is, to a certain extent, my own. It is easier when I can infuse experiences from my own life into my storytelling. Yet, I don't know if it is any more difficult when a character and I have little in common. Another of my characters is a sociopath--and I don't think I'm much of a sociopath. This person is angelic on the exterior, and yet sadistic in ways I could never imagine myself to be. It is an interesting exercise designing the motives for a man such as he.

The most difficult thing about writing for me, at this point, is tone. I'm not sure who my audience is, yet. I'm writing a story that I ultimately would like to have published commercially, and for that, you need a definite audience. I don't know if what I'm writing will be more interesting for adults or teens--or both. But for now, I'll write it and see what comes out and decide all that later.

hoop-de-do