By Beth Terrell
I'm writing this post in my favorite writer's getaway, a cabin in the mountains not far from Gatlinburg. There's a fire burning in the fireplace and a mug of hot chocolate on the coffee table, and if I step out on the back deck, I can see a waterfall shimmering in the moonlight. I take a deep breath and smell damp leaves and burning cedar, the slight chlorine smell of the hot tub on the deck. It's the perfect writer's retreat, and I'm fortunate enough to be able to come here whenever I like.
Yesterday, my writer's retreat was a little bungalow on the beach. My bare toes curled into sand still warm from the afternoon sun, and when I licked my lips, I felt and tasted the grit of salt. Tomorrow, I think I'll write on a houseboat on the lake. The day after, a cottage in Scotland.
Money is no object, not because I'm wealthy enough to rub elbows with Bill Gates, but because I carry my writer's retreat with me wherever I go. As a figment of my imagination, it's whatever and wherever I want it to be. I can close my eyes and summon up the sights, smells, textures, and tastes. A crisp apple, a bowl of steaming oatmeal sprinkled with melting brown sugar, a threadbare quilt smelling of lavender.
This ability to conjure up a total sensory experience is good for more than creating imaginary cabins. It's what makes it possible for a writer to bring a setting to life. Does your character, pursued by a killer, plunge through an overgrown meadow? Can you feel the tall grass whipping across her legs? Feel her heart pounding? Can you smell rain in the air, hear the killer panting behind her? Can you bring that experience to life for your reader?
Through the magic of words, you can. You can take your readers anywhere, show them anything. You can make them love, feel...and believe. What could be better than that?