Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Standing Stones

Hey, it's been awhile. I haven't blogged lately because I've been visiting the UK. I saw a lot of England that I hadn't seen before, got some great Doctor Who books from Forbidden Planet, and visited Stonehenge again. I also got my first peek at Avebury, which thrilled me beyond words!

When you stand on the Salisbury plain, feeling the mist on your face, and watching the weather change from moment to moment, you get an idea of why these stone age people chose this spot to build stonehenge. It's magical. The wind sweeps away all sound, making your time there very personal. The land there hasn't changed in centuries, and you can feel that, even though the hand of man has desecrated this still impressive monument. When you actually see the size of these stones, you cannot help but wonder the who, what, when, where, and especially why of it. What possessed these people to move giant stones across miles of landscape, to cut and polish them, and then stand them up carefully in their well-planned places? We may never know, and that just adds to the wonder of it all.

But what's this got to do with Cartooning, you ask? Well, there's an old saying that says there is no substitute for experience. Add that to the other old saying, write what you know, and it's clear that if you don't get out much, you're not going to have much to write about.

Travel is good for the brain, in any sense. It's good to get other viewpoints, see how others live, what they think of us, and to especially to see things with your own eyes what you may previously have only seen in books, or on TV. Let me say this for the record: books, television, and even the internet are NOT doorways to the world. They are great tools, for sure, but they are no substitute for actually going outside and seeing things. Seeing a photo of Stonehenge, or St. Paul's Cathedral, or the temples of Elephanta island is like reading a recipe; you can guess what the food tastes like, but it won't satisfy your hunger.

As a writer, I find travel very stimulating. I got a great story idea while just preparing for my trip! It was easy then to get the research material I needed, since the story was already forming in my mind. Beyond photos and details, though, are impressions. You know it rains a lot in England, but you really know how that feels when the ice cold drops keep finding their way down the back of your coat no matter what you do, and you realize that the sweater you are wearing just isn't enough to keep out the cold. Feel that rain while standing in a windy field overlooking the ruins of a 600 year old house that has 3 foot thick stone walls, and I dare you not to be inspired!

Trust me... get out there... do something, see something, go places.

It's worth it!

Some of the many stones left standing in Avebury. Don't let the sheep fool you; they are in the foreground, so the stones are larger than they appear. That black spot in the middle is me, for better reference. See detail below.

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