Thursday, July 31, 2008

Anatomy of a Distraction (or If You Give a Writer a Search Engine...)

Here's why when you're actually trying to get some writing done, you should not open up your web browser. Once the pandora's box is open... Usually I'm really good, but Google Maps shouldn't count, right? I was in the middle of writing a scene set in Eugene, Oregon, and I needed to see a map of the area. No atlas handy to my desk, but the computer is on (though I'm writing by hand). So here's how it goes:

Google map of Eugene. Reminds me that it's not as close to the coast as I thought.

Oh, I think, how odd. There don't seem to be any major cities on the West Coast, between San Francisco and Seattle. This requires a search. In Wikipedia. Turns out there are no good deep water ports that connect to interior agricultural areas. Hence, unlike the East Coast, which is full of cities and harbors, the West Coast is pretty bare.

Which gets me thinking. Hey, wouldn't that be a cool bike ride. Ride along the coastal highway, no big cities. Which leads me to find a blog about a guy who blogged about biking the Oregon coast in 2006. Sounds fun. Turns out it's a pretty busy road, because so many tourists think it's beautiful.

And I get to thinking about big long trips, and his blog just happens to mention, which is a blog by a couple who are bicycling from the top of Canada to the tip of Patagonia. They started in June 2006, and now they're in Peru, having ridden more than 12,000 miles.

I've always had a fascination with long journeys on foot (hence my novel Tornado Siren) or by bike or by canoe. So far, I haven't gotten very far on my bike, but maybe later this summer or next year... Paddling the length of a major river has great appeal. Mississippi anyone? The Charles is close by and short, I guess I could start there. So many possibilities.

All of this led to considerable daydreaming and not prodigious writing, until I got the stupid browser closed. I promise myself I'll be strong (though a little refresher research on gravitational attraction just happened to lead to Einstein's special relativity, which then led to Kepler's Problem, and I'm interested in anything about Kepler, so...)

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