Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Going to my cave

There's a bit in the movie Fight Club where, as part of a meditation process, people are encouraged to go to a place in their mind that's safe and comforting - their cave. 

Last week I went to a place I think of as my cave. First, camping for three days at El Capitan State Beach. I've been going there since I was a kid and I've always loved it there. After exiting off the 101 you drive down a road through the woods - ancient oaks that form a canopy overhead. Once you're checked in and set up, take a walk to the beach. The campsites are on high sandstone bluffs that overlook the beach, and you take a path and stairs down to the beach. It's a south-facing beach so the waves aren't much but you don't have to worry about rip tides. And even if you aren't camped very close to the bluffs, if you wake up late in the night and listen, you'll hear the sigh and boom of the surf. Lovely.

After three days we broke camp and went to one of my other favorite places, Solvang (where I always go for my DIY writer's retreats). Again, a place of physical and mental comfort, a place where the waiters and storekeepers recognize me and where I can find tasty pancakes at pretty much any time.

Not only do I feel much more relaxed now - not to mention primed and ready to finish the revisions on Undertow - but I realized afresh just how much these two places have worked their way into my subconscious, and in particular into my KellyVerse town of Los Cielos. The coastal geography of Los Cielos is similar in many ways to El Capitan (particularly the bluffs and the vegetation - brambly plants and wild anise); and elements of Solvang such as the surrey bikes and some of the shops have crept into the town too. It's almost a feeling of deja vu to see how something that's long been a part of your life (so much so you've taken it for granted) immerses itself into your creativity and into your work. 

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