Friday, January 20, 2006

Dream and Steam

We all have those special times of day or favorite locales that help inspire our writings. I am a highly visual person and get distracted by what I see. I am always craning my neck to look at different pieces of architecture, I live in a city full of architectural history. I even got so distracted that I crashed my car once, with my front end landing on someone's lawn in Oak Park.

When I'm conceptualizing, as well, it's good if I don't fender-bender my ideas or writings with distractions.

What I need more than a walk or ride down a city street to clear my head is a steam room.

Whether I visit the local Korean steam and hot tub, or visit the neighborhod gym, there a steambath invites me to lie its misty clean slate before my eyes, ready for my musings.

Today, for example, I was struggling to revise the "arc" of one of the main character's in a children's musical I'm working on. My collaborator phoned me the other night to point out that what my character actually got at the end of the play isn't necessarily what she had asked for when the curtain rose.

I wasn't sure when I would be in the mood to settle down and mull that one over. I hit the gym. And after every workout,I usually end up for a 15-minute visit to the steambath.

In a steambath, there isn't very much to do, or look at or even listen to besides the hiss of the vapors that turn on and off every few minutes. The steam's heat kept my blood moving which only seemed to fuel my thughts and open the path I was struggling to venture down. I wrote in white chalk on the white slate before me. It was invisible to either one of my brown eyes, but surely visible to my mind's eye. I made mental notes and not only came up with a series of events to revise the character's arc, but her changes brought a new motion and clarification to a couple of other characters' arcs.

That mysterious monastery shrouded in fog, that Chinese hut in the mountain clouds, that steambath where enlightment or an enlightened notion or two might swirl and and bring answers to your questions or insight to your dilemmas. The steambath. What better place to dream with your eyes open. ◦

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