Thursday, September 9, 2010

Who will be your book this season

Mary Poppins here~

So the wind changed this weekend, and with it came a new story idea. A dark and velvety idea that I don't expect to end happily. It has captured my attention...

Most of you know I grew up in Baton Rouge. When I was in high school, if you admitted to being happy with our hometown you got labeled a "Baton Rouge lover," and that somehow meant you had no imagination or had settled. At 16.

The peer pressure in my group was very much to leave home, make your mark. And while I won a few academic scholarships to different schools and was planning to attend Loyola in New Orleans, at the last minute I decided to go to LSU and live on campus. I even joined a sorority (Phi Mu). What a disappointment I was.

Baton Rouge lover.

But the French-Catholic culture of my hometown was so unique and inspiring to me. I did love it and I often miss it now that I have moved away (and can't get a decent meal anywhere).

On Saturday when I walked outside to cool breezes and zero humidity, my initial response was "Who's going with me to New Orleans?"

Oh... wait.

My daughters ran outside in their nightgowns and my youngest said, "What's that smell?" It was the clean, grassy smell of dry air. We don't get that a lot here on the coast.

Somewhere in the distance a neighbor was mowing the lawn and to me it sounded like an accordion. I thought, "La lune, trop bleme, pose un diadème sur tes cheveux roux..."

When I was very young, a Scottish family would come to our church and perform. The father, Simon Cameron, played the accordion and I remember he would always cry at some point during the show.

I'm not sure if it's that or homesickness, but now whenever I hear an accordion, I feel a surge of happiness mixed with nostialgic melancholy.

I chaperoned a group of high school students on a trip to Europe when I was in college. As we walked along the streets of Paris, I spied a set of stairs that seemed to go straight up. They were built into the side of a hill and they looked a million years old, all dippy in the center.

Naturally, I took off to see where they led, and when I finally reached the top, I turned around and my breath caught. I was on Montmartre and the entire city spread out before me. I'll never forget it.

What about you guys? Any places in your past or present that are particularly inspirational? Any place or thing that "shouldn't" be, but is?

Only one thing to do: WiP3.

B'love~

26 comments:

Rayna M. Iyer said...

Love this post. My response would be far too long for one comment, so maybe I just do a post on it next week.

Vicki Rocho said...

Let's try this again. My windows key got stuck, so there were a string of letters I couldn't type without invoking other commands. One reboot later and I think we're back in business!

There is a tiny town in Iowa that my family moved to after leaving Vegas. At first I hated it because everyone knew my business and I stuck out like a sore thumb, but now I can appreciate it for so many reasons. My daughter now disses Iowa every chance she gets...but someday she'll appreciate what we have here.

Matthew Rush said...

Hmm. Well for me it will always be Queen Anne Hill in Seattle. It's where I was born and raised and it's beautiful, rising over downtown to the south, when you stand on top you can see two snow capped mountain ranges on a clear day ... and the sound (that's water connected to the Pacific Ocean).

Kittie Howard said...

What a beautiful post! You made me homesick, nicely so. Didn't realize you grew up in Baton Rouge. I've traveled the world, but, sigh, I'd like to get out of Virginia and return to what you so beautifully described. I miss the smell of a fresh rain. And, I swear, this food up here's poisoning me, yuck! You know what Virginia's famous for? Peanuts!

DL Hammons said...

I didn't grow up in Louisiana, but my Dad's side of the family is from there and I did go to LSU and live in Baton Rouge/New Orleans/Alexandria for eight years. I go back once a year for an LSU football or baseball game. You haven't lived until you've experienced Mardi Gras in New Orleans!!

But my inspirational spot was imbedded in me the first time I went snow skiing. When I got off of the lift on top of that mountain in Colorado, it took my breath away. It's never returned.

LTM said...

@Rayna: Can't wait! :o)

@Vicki: maybe it's just the teen thing to do--much like thinking you're the only person to do/feel something. ;p Mental note...

@Matt: there's something to that Seattle thing. One of my college roommates dated a guy from there, and I swear that's all he talked about. (How great Seattle was/is... she actually lives there now. Must visit~)

@Kitty: are you an La. girl? If so, you are NOT kidding about the food. Nowhere else can you get cuisine *anywhere*! ;p

@DL: I've never been to Colorado, but it does look amazing. Another place to visit... Hey! Wasn't this part of my Mayan "End of Days" thing??? ;p

KarenG said...

I can tell the ideas are fermenting in you because this post was lyrical, with hints of imagery and characterization that made me want to go the couch and hold it in my hands and keep reading. Oh wait it's a blog not a book. Get writing girl!

Jen said...

Loved this post!! I say if you're a Baton Rogue lover than you might as well wear the title proud!!!

What a beautiful site to see in Paris, I've never been out of the country but I can feel the inspiration you felt just from the description you gave. Your words said it all.

My most inspiring place would be my husbands hometown. A town of 251people. We go for Christmas every other year but one of these years I'd like to go in the spring time. I plan to bring my laptop and sit out in the middle of the field staring at the river and write a novel. They may find it silly but I soak up the inspirtaion while I'm there, all the story ideas I get, everything starts there and ends there. It's the most magical place I've ever been.

Melissa said...

OKAY WOW. I adore this post. It was lace with nostalgia and stirred my emotions for sure. This velvety new story idea sounds intriguing. I hope you pursue it.

Is it sad that my strongest sense of nostalgia right now is me wanting to go back to Harry Potter world? Man, you know you have a problem when...

Candyland said...

Maybe my bathroom shouldn't be...but it often times is...
Seriously....I think I find the most inspiration when somewhere in nature where I can enjoy all of...bleh. No. It's the bathroom, for sure.

Ellie said...

Fun post; I can see why you would be homesick! Your hometown is thick gumbo, rich for the senses and full of soul~

Me, London, when I was 17, West Minster Abby and Windsor Castle. The history, no London fog, while I was there. You could just feel so much pride and pomp surrounding you! I was there a week, so want to return~ Maine, little coastal town, a casual lifestyle, mixed with pride, salty sea tales and lobstah! Yes we say it like that~ The local color and
geography, make it a unique setting...perhaps I'll write a book someday~

Hart Johnson said...

My truly inspirational places all have big geography. I love being atop a mountain peak, or in front of a stormy ocean (Oregon ocean where the waves violently crash against the rocks) or a churning whitewater river... the Columbia River gorge, with it's hundreds of water falls...

Yet here I am in Michigan where geography is small and WEATHER is big... not such a fan of big weather--other than thunderstorms, I mean..

Summer Ross said...

I think inspiration can come from where ever you are at that moment in time. My inspiration tends to come from Wyoming, even though I don't really write of the great west or outdoors.

Have a great day!

LTM said...

@Karen: big encouragement! Thanks--I'm trying, but mostly trying to hold the reins. I have a tendency to rush to the good parts. Working on the buildup...

@Jen: that is so cool! It's awesome to have a magical place like that--for me it was the beach. But that got broken up this summer and now I'm tripping through the streets of NOLA in my head. Unexpected...

@Melissa: It took me six months to get over wanting to go back to Disneyworld... LOL! I still want to go back~ :D

@Candy: You know, I read that most great ideas come in the shower. Something to do w/relaxing. See? You're right!

@Ellie: You're so right; And having visited London, I agree w/you there. But I've never been to Maine. I would LOVE to go! Do at least *try* to write a book once. It's a unique experience.

@Tami: see my comment to Matt--I find west coast natives are very rugged and inspired by big geography. But aren't we all? Personally, I think big weather can be inspiring as well... This Tornado Loves You~ :o)

@Summer: So right. And Wyoming. Wide open spaces. Good stuff~

Jan Markley said...

Lovely post, evocative of a sense of place and belonging.

I also love the: 'naturally, I took off to see where they led." Classic writer curiosity - which is why I tried to open every door in the British Museum marked with a 'do not enter' sign because I thought that was were they were keeping King Tut!

RaShelle said...

Hey Leigh - I've always wanted to go to Paris. I even took French in HS and a semester in college.

A place I loved that I wasn't supposed to was living on base in Cheyenne Wyoming. We lived in this old, brick house built in 1885. I loved it. Three floor and a basement. All wood floors. Fireplaces in the bedrooms. Think of Scarlet O'Hara's house. Not quite that grand, but that style. Living "on base" was so not cool though.

Cruella Collett said...

I b'love this post (does b'love mean what I think it means...?)! I felt exactly that way about Paris when I first visited. I vividly remember driving in through the suburbs, seeing the houses gradually become older, prettier, more charmind, and then we were THERE, in PARIS, and I wanted to move there and live there for ever and ever and speak French and drink wine (but I was 13) and write books and have a small balchony in a rustique apartment that always smelled of fresh coffee.

I've been to Paris many times since, and it's not QUITE as magical now. But I still remember the feeling, and sometimes I get it with other places as well. It doesn't even have to be a place - it can be a moment, or a smell or a sound or a person. Inspiration is a great and mysterious thing :)

Clarissa Draper said...

Wow, any place? I love the mountains near my old home in Canada. They are always a wonderful place to bring me into my writing world.

CD

LTM said...

@Jan: writer's curiosity or delinquent tendencies. Did you find him? ;p

@RaShelle: We've got to get you to Paris... And that house sounds WAY cool. That's the second Wyoming shout-out... It's moving up the list. :o)

@CC: Yep. And maybe it's best to remember a place from a distance of not having been in a while. Sort of like me remembering the New Orleans of my childhood. Not the place it is today. :o\

(so you're sayin I'm a dork? Honestly, I think of G. Love & Special Sauce--LOL! :D ...what?)

@Clarissa: it's those childhood memories. Maybe because everything was so new or something... or we were hearing so many stories then. :o)

Stephen Tremp said...

Dark and velvety. I like that. Yeah, there are some dark places from my past still lurking that I can draw inspiration from. We all have them.

Stephen Tremp

Talli Roland said...

Great post, Leigh!

(Funny - my real name is Marsha Leigh Moore! Maybe our parents were in the same wavelength!)

I did my top 10 places on Tuesday last week. There's a lot of inspiration in the world!

Jan Markley said...

Leigh, I didn't find King tut but I'm convinced they have him there somewhere ;-j.

I passed on your blogger buddie award. Check out my latest post!

LTM said...

@Stephen: Isn't it great. This one really came out of nowhere, but it's evolving nicely. I keep telling JRM "this is why this character does this" --he has no idea what I'm talking about, but he says "I like it." Encouragement~

@Talli: Argh! The downside of new friends--missed all the related posts! And a travel writer writing about fave sites? I'll def. be hopping over to check that one out~

@Jan: LOL! Awww--Friendz!!! ;p

Jennie Bailey said...

The forest where I spent a month every summer starting when I was a baby. Any forest will do, but this one is particularly magical to me. Lost of ideas flow through the campground on the river! Maybe it's all that clean, fresh air! We don't have any of that in Los Angeles.

Carolyn Abiad said...

Montmartre and dark stories... you're singing my song, hon! I remember those stairs, my knees were knocking when I got to the bottom...and I agree with Karen, you've caught a muse - start writing!

Favorite place? An Istanbul ferry ride out to Buyuk Ada, New York harbor ride to Ellis Island, Venice ferry from Murano into Piazza San Marco...notice all of them are panoramic and I have cold sea spray in my face. Why do I live inland???

Odessa said...

I miss B.R. too!! I miss the food especially, like STEAK!!

Places that took my breath away - ITALY, everything I saw left me awestruck!