I grew up camping. I loved camping. It all started when my grandparents bought a travel trailer and a tent. They made plans with my parents at various times during the summers to go camping together. I’m from Michigan, USA originally, and in that state there are campgrounds everywhere. The coastal line along the Great Lakes provided many many campgrounds, which we frequented, and the inland lakes provided the same.
My favorite campground was at Lake Charlevoix up near Petoskey, Michigan. That would be the northwest part of the state along the coast of Lake Michigan. The emerald green and sometimes turquoise color of the water was breathtaking. While there, we went to the beach and looked for Petoskey stones (hence the name of the city). Other activities we did were fishing, swimming, hiking, riding bikes, exploring, and other kinds of interesting activities kids love to do. Eventually, our cousins went with us, which made the experience all that more fun.
Now that I am older, I don’t want to camp. The reason for that feeling has nothing to do with anything negative from my childhood experience of it, though. I have those cherished memories tucked in my heart. I guess I outgrew it and am on to other things now.
Everyone has an odyssey of sorts. If you are still in your 20’s, your odyssey is still in the beginning stages. If your are older, say in your 50’s, your odyssey is still in progress, but you have quite a life journey up to that point even more so.
We all have experiences that lead us somewhere. Maybe yours led you exactly to the point at which you wanted to be, even though how you got there wasn’t the road you wanted to take. Or, maybe it was. If you’re a writer, your odyssey is chucked full of material from which you can choose to include in your story. This goes along with a post I did earlier that talked about writing what you know. Today I want to touch on the variety of events in one’s journey/odyssey. I’ll use my own as an example.
My odyssey is in 2 parts. The first part started out in the beautiful state of Michigan, which is where I’m from. There isn’t a lack of places to camp and swim because of the huge coastline due to the lakes we have access to year round. As a result, my family camped quite a bit. The explorations, hiking, bike riding, fishing, and swimming added to the adventures. One summer at the age of 16 was the last camping trip me and my family went on together. An incident happened involving me. A moment of tragedy can happen in an instant but last a lifetime. This began the beginning of my second odyssey. From this point forward there was much I had to overcome, and it wasn’t easy. I, like many human beings, made right decisions and wrong decisions. These decisions helped me to learn and grow from. They gave me something to reflect on and use in order to mature and end up at a place in my life that leaves me saying to myself, “I made it. The journey was rough, but I made it.”
This doesn’t mean that there aren’t still decisions and mistakes to be made, but at least now I have some concrete lessons to base my decision making process on. I’m more informed. Even more, I have something I can reflect on by using these experiences in my books, which is what I did in my novel The Triunix of Time. The book isn’t about my life, but some truths lay within it. In your stories, you will embed your own truths, as many writers do. What I found by doing this is that these bits of truth enrich the story itself because you are leaving your mark. Your feelings regarding them come through to the reader by way of your story characters, your descriptions, and the like.
Don’t use all of your odyssey in one story/book (unless you’re writing an autobiography). Use them as they apply to the story you’re writing. This way, in future books/stories you will have more to use.