Wis[h/t]ful

I began my long-form writing efforts early in my career as a college-level educator. I am very fortunate: my job provides me with ample extra-curricular time, and my wife and I take full advantage of our situation by traveling to interesting places every year. I’ve traveled all over the United States, including most of the major cities on both coasts as well as multiple trips to many of our amazing National Parks. I hike in the Rockies every summer with my dogs. I’ve also been able to take vacations to Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Europe. I love to travel, and I feel incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to do so.

My travels have informed my writing in a variety of very important ways. First and foremost, I find myself making a paradigm shift in my approach to my story setpieces and locations: from wishful to wistful. My early writing often pursued locations that I’d only read about or seen in pictures or the movies. Distant mysteries cities, expansive mountain vistas, lush tropical oases. I wrote about these places because I wished I could experience them, and that wishful longing bled through in my prose.

Now that I’ve had the opportunity to experience some of these places in person, the tone of my setpiece descriptions has transitioned to a more wistful, nostalgic tone. I can describe these locations in much better detail, but there’s something about those descriptions that’s…sorrowful. It’s not a bad thing, I don’t think: my most recent short story was obviously a tribute to a really amazing trip to Machu Picchu, drawing heavily on my actual experiences there. The story was vastly better as a result.

It’s not just travel that informs my writing: my hobbies (playing videogames, reading, watching movies, etc.) have also led to a transition from wishful to wistful. I find myself spending more time longing for the days of John Hughes movies and ’80s electronic rock than I do wishing for the newest Batman movie or the latest Scalzi novel. Don’t get me wrong: new stuff is great! But I find the draw of the old and the familiar to tug at me more and more as the years pile up behind me.

Science fiction is the act of writing not what we know, but what we think we know about the future. I’ve come to believe that grounding that sci-fi supposition in what we really do know about the past and the present makes the gee-whiz future predictions that much more believable and interesting. I’ll keep traveling and exploring new things, and reminiscing about past, comfortable events, and let both experiences inject their magic into my writing.

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