Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Where Stories Are Born and Other Miracles

So while I was writing on my laptop, my husband turned away from the Angels game and suggested we plan another trip to England and Scotland. Possibly next summer.

ME: Yippee! Jane Austen's House!
HIM: Uh, no.
ME: But...But...Jane Austen's House.
HIM: No. Been there. Done that.
ME: But Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy merchandise.
HIM: Definitely. Not.
ME: (a moment later) Where did the Bronte sisters live?
HIM: Why don't we go to Spain instead?
ME: Oooh! (fingers flying over the keyboard)
HIM: What are you doing?
ME: I'm Googling Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. Don Quixote, baby!

Yeah, the poor guy can't win. :-)

The following was posted after our first trip to England...

The Miracle of Jane Austen’s House (and gift shop)

Originally posted on The Writer’s Vibe, August 2006

Yes, my friends, it was indeed a miracle! Three miracles, in fact. The first one being that we walked around without a map until we finally stumbled upon the tiny, picturesque village of Chawton where Jane Austen had lived. (We knew we were close when the houses started to sport thatched roofs).

Yeah, yeah. I know what my friends are thinking: Michele didn’t have a map of the entire area in her trusty file folder? Nope, no Google Earth either. Not this time, folks. We’d set out of London that morning, knowing an adventure waited for us near Alton…Somewhere.

Then suddenly, the miles we had endured in our pilgrimage and the soreness in our tired legs and aching feet was all worth it because finally on the right hand side of the narrow road was Jane Austen’s house and gift shop. And they took credit cards! Did I mention all the merchandise—photos, bookmarks, ect.,--with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy? Okay, I didn’t actually purchase said merchandise, as my husband was with me on this journey. Awkward!

Anyway, this was the 17th century house she’d lived in when she wrote and revised her novels. I stood next to the writing table she'd used, hoping to soak in some of the creative aura around it. Hmm…Can inanimate objects have an aura? Well, whatever it was, it worked because I bounded out of that house eager to write and I’ve been on a tear ever since that day. Miracle Number Two. Can I get an Amen?

The third miracle came about when my family and I realized we still had enough stamina to walk another seven miles around London that day, which we did. Thus, we knew it truly to be The Miracle of Jane Austen’s House (and gift shop).

I had a similar experience a few years back when I visited Louisa May Alcott’s house in Concord, Massachusetts. Well, not the walking part, as we had a car on that trip, but the thrill of being in a place where one of my favorite stories had been created. (I seem to recall hovering near her writing desk as well). That excitement kept me going until I finished my first novel. But I didn't stopped there, as several more stories are on their way!

So what about you? Who wrote your favorite novels? Have you visited the places where those stories were born?