It was time to put the books away, to step away from the seminar room and the rehearsal room, and to see some new places.
It was time to get on a train and stare out the window and watch the world pass by. It was time to get lost in thought, and perhaps discover a new story or two along the way.
It was time to see mountains.
Last Tuesday I woke up early, loaded up my backpack, and headed for the train station. Bought a cheap ticket (thanks to my student discount!) and went north.
I ended up in a small town named Carlingford, located on a fjord right on the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. I’m not going to take the time (for now) to explain the history and reasons why there is an “Ireland” and a “Northern” Ireland. But you need to be aware of the fact that they are two separate countries, and “regular” Ireland is NOT part of the U.K., while Northern Ireland is.
I may try to explain this in a future post, but for now I recommend heading over to my favorite travel blogger, The Everywhereist, and allow her to explain the difference.
Carlingford is named for the fjord (or inlet) the town sits on, and has something to do with Viking settlers. Going further back, it’s name in Irish was Cuan Snámh-Aighneach, Snámh-Aighneach or Cuan Cairlinne. (Don’t ask me to pronounce that.)
But I’m not here for a history lesson. I’m here to talk about the joys of wandering, of traveling to unknown parts, of being completely alone and having that be the best thing in the world.
When I’m working on a new play, I like to get away from familiar places, from my shelves of books and DVDs, from the usual streets and faces I see every day. And now that I “live” in Dublin, I had to get away from my small Blackrock apartment as well. There’s something about going to a new place, the way your mind drifts while you watch the landscape rush by while you’re on the train, that has always been very helpful for me as a writer.
Or it could just be that you have nothing else to do BUT write. Most of my really good ideas came to me while sitting (alone) at dinner, or in my Bed and Breakfast, after a day spent walking the town and the hills, or up the Slieve Foy as far as I could go in my non-waterproof sneakers. (Really wish I had packed the hiking boots, but they’re sitting in my parents’ basement at the moment.) Sometimes you have to get to a certain point of loneliness and/or boredom for the words to start flowing.
And so after a couple of days in Carlingford, I had the outlines for not just one but two new plays. One’s a dark satire about marriage (I think), and another’s about a fifth grade music prodigy. And I think they share some of the same characters, and even some of the same events, but I haven’t gotten that far with them. Sometimes when you write, the story leads you into directions you didn’t expect, so we’ll see where these end up.
Came back to Dublin in time for a friend’s 40th birthday, and it was wonderful to be among good friends in my temporary home.
And today I read the opening scene from that new play to our guest professor, and he thought it was great stuff.
Ahh! I almost forgot the best part! I made a video, kids! It’s a little travelogue of my trip to Carlingford and back. Check it out!
You can also see a lot more photos of Carlingford and the rest of my trip here. It’s a public Facebook album. Hopefully I did it right.
Four weeks of classes left.