Well, it’s gonna be the next job of a character I’m dreaming up ever since a guy scaled a 100-foot tree in my front yard and chopped it down with a chain saw.
My last job went pretty well – backhoe driver. The pay was great, the foreman wasn’t a bad sort, and I got a date with a hot red head named Mona. Things went great until they didn’t.
So I’m excited about this tree climbing gig. I do a lot of research. Take pictures, say “wow, I can’t believe he’s up there so high,” and then deny that any of my interest in the future potential character is at all tied to the general hotness of the tree crew.
I’m still in the creative stage, so it’s important to draw on any and all inspiration, right?
My other excuse is that I’m fifty and can start to blame lots of what I think, do and say on my age. (I reckon it would take about two and a half of them to make my age. So none of the professionals pictured in this story are named, to protect them from me.)
Isn’t that what we do? Write about stuff we’ve never seen and done, characters we’ve never been or will be, places we’ve never been.
Except for the writers who actually do those things and are those characters and go to those places.
To me it’s completely fair and valid to blend what we know firsthand with what we can glean by research and weave it into a story. To me, it’s about having a starting point, a real place of reference deep within that can inform the part that will be obtained by research.
I grew up climbing trees in the small town I lived in. Once my dad was a little late clipping chicken wings and most of the herd escaped out of our backyard and into the town. He paid us kids a buck a chicken to bring them back, so I climbed more trees to chase down chickens. My awesome dad also built a treehouse in the backyard, and my friends and I slept up there every other night during summertime. Point is, I’ve been in a a few trees. And fallen out of one, but that’s another story altogether, maybe.
The fun part for me is seeing if I can bridge the gap between sitting in the welcoming crook of a willow tree to a character hanging atop a swaying tree trunk and wielding a chain saw with such expertise that the branches fall where he means them to fall. The point in the end, isn’t it, is whether the discerning reader believes it, whether I do my homework well enough.
My backhoe story was published and I recited part of it at a reading. Afterward, a guy walked up to me and said, “Nice job with the construction part.” It was great to hear that, both because he noticed that element of the story and knew enough to judge it.
I hope I fare as well with the tree guy story. Well, not that it has a plot yet, but . . . details!
Won’t know until I try. So much fun awaits!
By the way, it is incredibly sad to have a tree cut down. In this case, the root ball had been compromised by the street scaping and there was concern the tree would fall on a nearby house.
XO Laurel Leigh