There are certain things that when we see, hear, or smell them, they just put us into that proper state of mind where we are instantly transported to another time or place, or perhaps even another world. For each person, it’s always something a little different. However, I expect that history, tradition, and some instinctual programming in the back of our minds gives us all a fair amount of overlap.
I love spending time outdoors and I must admit that some trips are just more fun than others. Often what makes something more memorable is the unexpected, when something that should by all logic and reason be unpleasant, actually turns out to be fun. I’ve mentioned it before, but some of the best hiking I have done has been in the rain and for me a wet woodland road can easily send my imagination running wild. Who else has traveled the road? Where were they going and why? Was someone chasing them? Were they chasing some? Were they on a simple afternoon stroll? Visiting a friend? A colleague? A lover? The road exists, so someone at some point made this journey before me, yet only the faded memory of their passage remains.
In fantasy novels, as well as today and throughout history, people living in a preindustrial world tend to live hard lives. Though I expect human nature does kicked in and a leisurely stroll down a lane or a path occurs from time to time. I think there is something built-in that drives us to find pleasure when we can, if only for a moment.
For me, a forest trail always gets my mind wandering and I start thinking about the next village or perhaps what is left of that village and the ancient civilization that created it. That is another tenet of fantasy (as well as many other genres): the idea of lost civilizations and ruins that are left. I believe we are drawn so strongly to them because we want to make a connection with the past; to understand those that came before us and what their lives were like.
It is a fun aspect of writing; the chance to create not only the present world the characters live in, but also all the civilizations that came before them. It is rewarding to be able to add depth and history to the lives of those we create, even if only a fraction of that comes out in the stories.
For me, the idea of travel, especially in the backwoods away from civilization, is very evocative. It makes me want to seek out the undiscovered and the ancient civilizations that have passed into history. What about you? Is there a specific thought, sound, or smell that puts energy into your very being?