My friend, Maureen and I arrived Friday afternoon at Choke Canyon State Park, Live Oak County, South Texas, between San Antonio and Corpus Christi, poised and ready to begin our "Writing Weekend."
After we arrived we discovered we were surrounded by "birders." This area is along a major migratory path for birds and also is the northern end of the normal range of several birds from Mexico and Central America. Our neighboring campers had feeders with different types of seed to attract specific birds. One had orange halves hung from a tree which, when we walked by, had successfully lured several green jays. Very quickly we saw red wing black birds, cardinals, the ever-present grackle, Audubon's Oriole, yellow-fronted woodpeckers, Caracara (Mexican Eagle) and several species of hawks.
I don't know how we could have picked a more perfect weekend, even if we had tried. When we scheduled it, back around Christmas time, our only thoughts were to find a place that wasn't too far away so we wouldn't have a long drive, was scenic or by the water and to go on a weekend late in February, thinking it would be less crowded then. Weeks after we made the reservation, we discovered it was President's Day weekend, so there went our hopes for seclusion; the RV spots were completely filled. But the sites were so large and nice, we still felt our privacy. We never felt like we were "cheek to jowl." The weather was perfect: cool in the evenings, but not so cold that we couldn't sit outside and enjoy the full moon and stars and warm enough during the day that we could wear shorts and give our white, white legs a jump start on summer.
Since the purpose of the weekend was for us to get away from interruptions, sit somewhere inspirational and write, we finally tore ourselves away from the birds and got serious about our task. As I have been telling you, I have several stories running around in my head, trying to emerge as a novel. I finally decided on one of these stories to move forward with and proceeded to do so. I wrote an overview of the whole story and defined the major characters. One of the books about character development I have read suggests that you write a "biography" of each of your major characters, telling his/her story from childhood until the present time. Even if I don't include all the details in my book, which I won't, the biography makes the character real in my head so that I can better understand what he/she would say or do in situations. I managed to write detailed biographies of two main characters and feel very satisfied with the result. I even made myself cry at one point; I think this whole process is going to be very cathartic for me.
By Saturday evening we both felt we had accomplished a lot and decided we would take a break from writing and just relax and enjoy ourselves. I love Maureen. She and I have been friends since we were twenty-four; we are fifty-three now. Our birthdays are only a few months apart and we celebrate milestones together. I was in the delivery room with her when her son was born and she was with me, driving our car to West Texas, to claim the body of our son who was killed. We went to Iceland on an unforgettable adventure for our fiftieth birthday and are planning something special for sixty-five. My wonderful husband understands this and knows that I am a package deal -- when he got me, he got Maureen.
She makes me laugh. I laugh more with Maureen than anyone I know. We tell each other it is because we have the same sense of humor so we think everything we say is hilarious. It is probably true that no one else would get our jokes, but that's OK. We get them and have laughed about the same things for years. All it takes is a word or two to set us off. We added a few to the repertoire Saturday night: red ho, Scrabble rules and more karoke. Don't ask, they are location jokes, you had to be there and it was wonderful.
I haven't decided how much of the book I'm going to share with you yet. You may get some previews, but maybe not. I might make you wait until it's done. But I will let you know how it's going and, knowing me, I won't be able to keep anything secret, so you will most likely get to meet my characters. Maureen and I are already planning another writing getaway but until then, I will be here, plugging away. Thank you for continuing to stop by.