It’s that time of year again in the desert, when cicadas scritch their harsh song into the air, the heat averages in the 100s, and outdoor time is a rarity.
And yet, I long to be outside. Need to be, really.
If there is anything I’ve learned about my writerly self over the past five years, it’s that I am influenced greatly by nature: being in it, observing it, photographing it, living it. Yes, I seem to be more creative with my writing on days when I’m viewing the open skies.
I’ve taken my Jeep, Betty, to remote areas of the desert, and a certain kind of magic unfolds every time. Through the natural chatter of cactus wrens and the ruckus of ravens, my mind clears. The wind whistling through the stout paloverdes around me is a creative lullaby. And I write. I read. And what I produce is of a more inspired quality, often, than what happens behind my indoor desk.
A similar experience occurs when I’m running in the desert. Lines of fiction often come to me mid-stride, delivered it seems, on the invisible wings of the wind. I can’t adequately explain how much I crave this experience.
And yet, this time of year, we desert dwellers become shut-ins due to the heat. With the increased humidity, the outdoor running has all but ceased (even at 5:30 a.m., the temperatures can reach 90), as has hiking and Betty escapades (no reliable A/C in my old girl).
Yet I still keenly feel the need to be outside in order to work most creatively. That’s when it struck me. This:
I’m not sure why I never considered it, but the unfinished rooftop deck of our house-under-construction (since 2009) offers a wonderful microclimate.
So, yes, I have found a summertime solution to my creative woes! I’m getting my wild, outdoorsy fix by taking a few steps away from my desk. For the past week, I’ve risen early, headed out to the roof with my supplies in a tote: research books, novels, folders, laptop (yes, there is electric and wifi, so while it’s not a “true” desert experience like my Betty excursions, it does offer lovely views). So far I’ve been visited by a lovely lizard — whom I’m certain was courting me — two towhees, two cactus wrens and dragonflies. I’ve watched jackrabbits and roadrunners on the hillside, too.
This accidental solution has been perfect, casting cool creative breaths over the humid, blazing heat of the desert.
For Writers: Do certain settings aid in your creativity? Or can you “turn it on” and be creative anywhere? Does nature inspire you creatively? If not, what does?
For Readers: Do you prefer certain settings when you’re reading? Do they help transport you more than other settings? (It’s no surprise that I wrote about reading in the desert and the incredible experience it provided me on my birthday).