Try Something New

I recently tried something new–a Viking cruise. (From Paris, France, to Luxembourg, to German towns along the Moselle River and the middle Rhine River, to, finally, Zurich, Switzerland)

My head is filled with images, bits of conversation, smells, and sounds. I’ve seen cathedrals, cathedrals, and more cathedrals. Some I’ll remember, others I won’t. The image I will remember was from the short stop we made at the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial in Hamm, Luxembourg.

Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial

General George Patton’s grave

Walking on cobblestones wasn’t easy, but I actually think it helped my feet. And why can’t we build bridges that last more than fifty or a hundred years when the Europeans have so many (along with houses) that have been in place for centuries?

I don’t know if any of the locations I visited will ever appear in one of my books, but I know the experience has stimulated my thinking. (Or maybe it was all the wine I sampled. We were in wine country, after all.) And who knows, maybe Mary Harrington (A Killer Past), in a new book, will remember back to her years as an assassin when she lived in Europe. Perhaps she’ll recall an evening she spent seated at a table outside a Parisian café near the Eiffel Tower, drinking wine, and discussing the war in Vietnam with a man she will kill before the week is over.

view at night

I believe writers need to keep doing new things. No, it doesn’t need to be a trip to Europe, but perhaps, a weekend escape to a city or location never visited before. Even attending a sports event never seen before can stimulate the writer’s imagination. Cricket anyone?

I rode an aerial gondola (seilbahn) across the Middle Rhine two weeks ago. I’m afraid of heights, but this experience was fun. It gave me a new perspective of the city of Koblenz and where the Moselle meets the Middle Rhine.

Gondola (seilbahn) as seen from our ship

Ship, as seen from the gondola.

Simply going somewhere where you are mingling with and talking with new people can trigger new thoughts. People from different countries or people from different parts of the United States bring new perspectives.

Try writing somewhere different. Leave your house/office and go to a coffee shop. Write on a pad of paper instead of a computer. Use a different kind of pen. You don’t have to do this continuously, but it might actually help the flow of words…and if not, well, you gave it a try.

Try writing a scene a different way. Use a different point-of-view. (First person instead of third.) Or a different tense (Present instead of past.)

[Tweet “What have you tried recently that is different from your norm?” @marisSouthHaven]

What have you tried recently that is “different” from your norm?

AND NOW FOR MY EXCITING NEWS… (drum roll please)

ECHOES OF TERROR won the published mystery/suspense category of the Royal Palm Literary Competition held by the Florida Writers Association.

Dancing the Happy Dance.
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22 Responses to Try Something New

  1. Hi Maris,

    Congrats on your award! Your cruise sounds wonderful as well. I can’t think of anything more stimulating to a writer’s creativity than traveling and seeing new places.

  2. Bonnie Alkema says:

    Wonderful news on all fronts!! Congratulations on the 1st Place in the Florida Writers Association competition. And the cruise sounds great too. I have signed up for one next Aug/sept from Prague to Berlin. I am looking forward to new experiences. I do believe “new” is good for all of us.

  3. Hi Maris,
    Hope to see you soon. (Am I to get your award from Monica or did she get it to you?)

    • Maris Soule says:

      She said she would give it to you, Judy. The weather turned cold and rainy this week, so I am ready to head south. (Alas, won’t be doing so until the end of November.) See you early December.

  4. Sounds like a wonderful trip Maris!
    Good luck and God’s blessings

  5. Melissa Keir says:

    Congrats on your award! What a deserving recognition. The trip sounds amazing. My in-laws love cruises and are going on another in Spring. Maybe I’ll get up the guts to try one.

    • Maris Soule says:

      My husband and I have taken several ocean cruises, Melissa. A Viking River Cruise is different. If you get sea sick (I don’t), it’s a good way to go. It’s a great chance to visit Europe.

  6. Congratulations on your award, Maris. The trip sounds like a lot of fun, and just the right speed to combine with writing. I agree on the need to get away even if only for a short weekend, to see new places and people. I did so recently, and found a perfect Airbnb, where I hope to return.

  7. susan payne says:

    Congratulations. I want to go on the river cruise down the Rhine. My ambulatory days are gone so marching around old cities too much is out. I am grateful for the countries I had time to visit in my youth. good thing i write histories so some of those things never change – Spain is full of cathedrals as well. We all take what we are, what we see and what we feel and put them in our stories somewhere. Can’t wait to see Paris in yours again.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Susan, we did have one passenger in a wheelchair, but you’re right, the trip was much more difficult for her. (Her husband pushed her chair from location to location, and she could walk some so she could travel on the bus when necessarily.)This trip brought back some memories of countries/cities I’d visited before.

  8. George Mindling says:

    Congratulations on the award! Well deserved. I visit the Hamm cemetery every time we go back to Bitburg. I was stationed there, about 25-30 miles from Hamm – for over 5 years. I marched in the Patton Remembrance Day parade in Ettelbruck 5 times! 🙂

    • Maris Soule says:

      George, have you used that location or those experiences in any of your stories? Seeing how many of our men and women have died for our country always touches me. I had an uncle (a pilot) who went MIA during WWII. I looked for his name, but didn’t find it there.

  9. HiDee Ekstrom says:

    Congratulations on your award! Your trip sounds like it was a lot of fun, as well as inspiring. Glad you had a good time!

  10. Diane Burton says:

    Congrats on the well-deserved award, Maris. The cruise sounds so relaxing. We’ve done 2 Disney cruises in the Caribbean. I loved them, esp since we were with family. We’ve never taken a cruise by ourselves. That would be interesting. Friends just got back from a river cruise on the St. Lawrence. I think I’d like to try that one. That would be so great if Mary thought back to a time in Paris. I’m glad you’re planning another book for her. She is such an interesting character.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Diane, you and I have such opposite ideas of relaxing cruises. A Disney cruise sounds like torture to me. Viking, when they started planning ocean cruises asked people what they wanted. The majority said no children on-board. So no children on Viking ocean cruises. I don’t think they have a restriction like that on the river cruises, but there were no children on the river cruise we took and really no activities (on-board or off) that would be fun for children.

  11. My husband and I took a similar driving trip in those locations many, many years ago, and I kept a travel diary. I wish I had kept diaries of more local adventures like a long weekend in Albuquerque or my business trips to San Juan, Puerto Rico. It’s so easy to forget the details.

    • Maris Soule says:

      I agree, Pat. The little details help bring a location alive, but it is easy to forget some. That’s where tape recordings and videos help, but if you’re on a vacation, you don’t want to spend all of your time taking videos. I’ve already forgotten some of what I saw. I’m suffering from “Where was that?” syndrome.