Desolate Desert Digs
To the untrained eye, a pile of rocks in the desert might appear to be just that: a pile of rocks. In fact, most untrained eyes probably wouldn’t even see that pile of rocks during the height of summer, when the sun glares angrily off the scorched desert floor.
The chiseled pieces of feldspar, granite, sandstone and limestone would likely melt into the thirsty landscape. That is, unless you’re Neighbor Mark on his Polaris Ranger (think Superhero sporting a logo with NM in the middle, bionic vision enabled). He is the one who found this discovery and shared it with hubby and me:
It turns out that this pile of rocks that Mark had recognized as a building foundation (about a year earlier) is being renovated. By someone. For some reason. In the middle of nowhere.
Fresh ocotillo stalks and dried century plants now provide shelter over the structure that long ago shed its original roof. Bags of cement now wait inside for their transformation into globs of mortar that will be splattered haphazardly among the rocks, meant to stabilize this old relic.
To be honest, I wasn’t really sure what we were looking at. What was this building’s story before the renovators came along? Who stayed in it? For how many years? Alone? What wild animals did the inhabitants come across in this remote location?
Mark thinks it’s likely that the shelter was originally built by cowboys of the Old West. But my mind was still firing off all kinds of questions, conjuring all kinds of scenarios. Who was renovating it now? How on earth did they get the supplies way back into the desert? WHY would they? What is their intended use for this structure in 2011? A hunting shack? An isolated but rudimentary get-away?
I still don’t know. And I could probably never find the place again if I tried. Which I won’t. Unless Neighbor Mark drives.
For Writers: The unknown renovators of the rock pile shelter appear to be doing their best to build upon something that already existed – despite the remote setting, the failing condition of the foundation, the harsh sun. They’re simply trying to improve it, add to it, refresh it to suit today’s needs.
Is novel writing much different? Aren’t we really just writing renovators, building upon the existing themes and work of authors who have gone before us? Do writers naturally draw from other works – consciously, subconsciously – simply adding their own finishing touches and “refreshers” to what already exists?
Or do you think your ideas are completely your own, completely unique?
NOTE: If you have a chance, please visit Shari Lopatin’s “Rogue Writer” blog where I guest this week.