Yesterday I took a little road trip alone, mostly for the hell of it, to explore — and to work out some details for a novel I’m working on. I wrote the rough draft of Redfeather during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month )back in 2007 and the story is still with me, a little scar or scab I pick at, it just won’t heal. It’s a contemporary novel and part of it takes place in Arizona, so this was a research trip, I guess you might say. Not to mention therapeutic since I like to drive, I like to get in the car and go, it doesn’t matter where. I played some road music and when I tired of that I turned the music player off and talked aloud to my characters (or maybe it was my characters talking to me.)
Above about three thousand feet the saguaro become scarce and the vegetation is quite different than on the valley floors. Part of my mind is noticing plant life and rock formations and part of it is plotting the novel. What part of me is driving the car, I haven’t a clue! For me, writing fiction is something I’ve done most of my life, it’s how I live parallel lives.
On a whim, I decided to take the Apache Trail to Roosevelt Dam. The Apache Trail is an old stage coach route, a narrow road filled with switchbacks that hug the canyon walls, harrowing in places where there are no guard rails, no pull-offs, just the edge of the dirt road then a cliff. The pavement soon ran out and I followed a washboard dirt road for 22 miles as the sun sank and the moon rose over the rock formations. The two-seater sports car was a little crowded with the four of us — Ramie, Chas, Minerv and I — and we discovered the exact spot where they wreck their car.
I called Bob from Globe, it was after seven pm and I was still nearly two hours from the apartment. “There’s plenty of left-overs for dinner, honey, I’ll be awhile yet.”
Today was a good day for driving. I worked out some kinks in my story today and saw some spectacular scenery. Covered over 240 miles in about seven hours and got lost once, but that was the best part. In getting lost I realized what happens to the kids in my story which might not have happened otherwise.
Yeah, runnin’ down a dream that never would come to me
Workin’ on a mystery, goin’ wherever it leads
Runnin’ down a dream
— Tom Petty