Paul and I returned this week from a vacation in Savannah, GA. I wanted to share some thoughts about being a writer, and how a trip like this means I am “working” even when chilling and having a great time!
It was a family vacation/memorial trip in honor of my dad, who passed away in Dec. 2017. Dad loved to take the entire family on vacation, so we wanted to remember him by taking a family vacation and chose Savannah. My mom, brother, sister and her family, Paul and I rented a house together. Because we wanted to feel my father’s presence, we included going to a lantern festival, which was an amazing experience. So many people gathered to remember loved ones and promote peace and togetherness. The candles floating across the water reminded me of dad, all of us of dad, and brought him into our presence in a very meaningful way. Such intense emotional and spiritual events in my life shape the way I write about such things in my fiction. At some point, I know I will recall that moment when I write, and my mind will transport me back there – the character’s view of the world will merge with my own and flow onto the paper. And Dad will again be present, guiding part of my story.
Savannah is also a charming and lovely city, full of rich history – both frightening and wonderful. I can’t imagine that this setting won’t make it into a future novel. I loved the older houses, the intense cemeteries, and the vibrant culture of the city. It’s liberal feel amid the conservative South called to me, too. The way the city has deliberately nurtured and promoted the maintenance of its historic feeling is crucial. And I appreciated that most places we visited did not attempt to – literally – white wash the history. They incorporated the history of slavery and all its horror. It was raw and genuine. For all its beauty and charm, Savannah has a dark and dreadful past that needs to be learned, remembered, and understood. All of this history, too, will make it into a story at some time.
And then there is the haunted nature of the town. At every turn, in all the old houses, cemeteries, parks, and public places, ghosts haunt the landscape. We took an amazing ghost tour, and heard about hauntings around town as we toured other locations and just enjoyed ourselves. No writer of horror could escape the inspiration these tales can give! Chills went up and down my spine, often from true stories of living people doing awful things and then the hauntings that ensued. If you like haunted places, you have to visit Savannah.
Even if you’re not sensitive to the paranormal, you should visit Savannah. It is a wonderful and amazing place. I know there are plenty of very good reasons to boycott Georgia these days. I don’t disagree. But Savannah should be exempt, because it was a welcoming and lovely place for a vacation in remembrance of my father.