Opening up

frioI spent some time outside of Austin this weekend, and though I shouldn’t be surprised by the inspiration that a little distance can kick up I still found myself reveling in that gift. I don’t think I realized how desperately I was craving space until I hit I-10 on the way from Austin to Leakey, a little town on the Frio River deep in the Texas Hill Country. That’s when I became aware of my breathing, in a way I hadn’t been for months, outside of my yoga practice. Deep breaths and a fresh eye, and I was scouring the countryside for a little historic cemetery because that’s where my head has been for the past few weeks: stuck in a scene–a series of scenes, really–in my third novel.

I didn’t stop at any cemeteries, though I spotted signs for several. But I’m not worried. I’ll make my way back to the Frio, sooner rather than later. I was too taken with the scenery not to return. The sky was too big, the water too clear. Cold, too, cold enough that I almost wished we weren’t experiencing such a mild summer here in Austin, so I could feel the contrast of a hundred degree day and water capable of giving me chills.

I was staying at a friend’s house, but Saturday night my marketing expert and I broke away and went for a walk under stars so perfect we ended up dropping down in a clearing and tilting our heads back right there. She’s been writing lately, too, and we were talking about our books as we stared up at the sky. When we got quiet the silence felt huge. “I think we’re having a moment,” I said, and we ended up laughing so long and hard the trip would’ve been worth it if I’d experienced nothing else.

My friend says a Native American tribe used to hold some kind of ritual on the land where her house now stands. There might be a burial ground. I felt that connection profoundly. One line after another from the novel I’m writing revealed itself to me. I couldn’t get them all down fast enough. I fell asleep that night stuck in one scene and when I opened my eyes the next morning I was stuck in another.

Any break in my routine can shift my creativity, but there was something magical about that place. I wonder if you’ll be able to tell, when you read what I’ve written. I wonder if you’ll be able to pinpoint the scene in question, or if whatever opened up for me while I was there permeates more than just one section.

I’m ready to go back. Maybe I’ll buy a house of my own, or rent one, so I have space to write.

I feel a pull in that direction, and I know better than to ignore anything so magnetic.

Copyright © 2014 Jennifer Hritz All Rights Reserved

 

 

From Fiction to Reality

A friend of mine has been doing some writing lately, conjuring up her past and mining it for meaning. I’ve known Amie for almost ten years, but we didn’t connect that often until she started emailing me with questions. How do I manage my fear that what I’m writing might offend someone? How do I get out of my characters’ heads? What’s the best way to write a compelling sex scene? Her questions were insightful and curious, and I had such fun answering them, almost as much fun as I had reading her work, which is all about music and seduction and sex.

Then Amie emailed to say that a friend of hers, the fabulous photographer Josh Baker, wanted to play around with one of the scenes from my novel, The Crossing, which comes out this summer. So I met with him, and he was just as engaging and focused and creative in person as I might have assumed from seeing his work.

And suddenly I had a photo shoot on my calendar.

Initially I thought I wanted to do something without actors. After all, readers generally like to use their imaginations when they’re envisioning a character, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to commit to a certain “look” before The Crossing is even published. But while Josh was willing to let me try to recreate Joel and James’s living room, I knew that working with models would be so much more provocative for him. And since Josh can create a rain storm on a clear night, I figured I should trust him when he said he could shadow the shots so that the models themselves are a mere suggestion but the chemistry would bleed through.

Of course, for that kind of chemistry I knew I needed some stellar actors. So I started searching.

I looked through a LOT of head shots. But Evan Shaw I kept coming back to. I could see that he was every bit the professional I needed. When he read the scene in question he said he could really sympathize with Joel’s longing and vulnerability. That didn’t surprise me, given the photo he’d sent.

Now I’m gearing up for the shoot itself: a bottle of wine, a corkscrew, a pack of Marlboros. I’m keeping an eye on the weather, which so far looks like it’s going to be a little cool for the date (how perfect, given that the scene actually takes place in October). I’m trying to find out if Evan has a pair of boots, the kind that Joel describes as “heavy Redwings I’ve worn so often that the leather has softened like a kiss” and that Shelton, James’s homophobic fraternity brother, says makes him think Joel’s “plunging toilets or nailing A-frames in his spare time.”

You want to hear how this photo shoot goes? Then you should check back in.

And in the meantime, if there’s a scene from my fiction that you’d love to see re-created, comment below. I just might be able to make it happen.

Copyright © 2013 Jennifer Hritz All Rights Reserved