Monday, June 14, 2010

Out of Left Field...

Agnes, one of my writer friends from Wascott, Wisconsin recently proposed a topic for our writers group to expand upon - "out of left field." The what??

I struggled to make any sense of this topic as I sat at my computer doing what all writers are supposed to be doing - writing. I wasn't in the mood. Defying all traditional wisdom, I decided it was time to shut my computer down and head off into the real world. It was time to embark upon a research trip to Walnut, Iowa where my next novel would begin. Sure, I could research it on the Internet...but sometimes you simply need to be there to absorb a place, to talk to the people, to find out what it's really like to live there.

I wasn't, however, expecting an "out of left field" experience when I arrived in the antique city of Walnut,Iowa. The skies looked dark and very strange as I checked into my hotel. The desk clerk advised that there were tornado warnings in effect, that I should be prepared to come down immediately, with my pillow, if and when the fire alarm system was activated.

Five minutes later, the sirens began to wail. I forgot my pillow but remembered my cell phone as I headed down to the shelter. Hotel guests sat side-by-side in the long hallway, out of touch with the five tornadoes that we later learned were swirling around us. Several "storm trackers" soon joined us with their laptops, tracking the twisters as they passed over and around us. Finally, it was safe to leave the hallway - a place where fearful strangers had become friends.

Yes, Agnes, this was an "out of left field" experience. If I had decided to sit at home glued to my computer, I never would have thought about including a tordado, or storm watchers, in this novel.

The moral of this story - get out there into the real world! It is the unexpected experiences, the tornadoes in life, that will help you to write a novel surpassing anything you may write spending day after day in the safety of your own home,staring at the computer screen.

Stay tuned and please stay in touch!

Janet Kay


  1. guess that is why my name means Coming Wind
    I need to write on that topic for tomorrow...ya, right! lol...think I will write about the bears :)

  2. Good advice Janet. I think I need to take it - been tethered to this computer too long.