Those who read this blog regularly will have heard me burble on about the fabulous season at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and in particularly about the wonderful productions of Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man and the world premiere Equivocation by Bill Cain. Because of the way the schedule worked, The Music Man and Equivocation often played on the same day. After I returned from my July trip to OSF in Ashland with my friend Penny, I decided I’d make a trip back in the fall to see both plays again (or rather for the third time, since I’d seen them first in the spring). I bought tickets, made plans to see the matinee of The Music Man and have dinner with my friend Elaine who lives in Ashland, booked the hotel. Of course by the time the trip rolled around I was busy and stressed. I knew I’d have fun, but I didn’t realize quite how beneficial the brief break would be for my writing.

I always do some of my best plot-thinking in the car. On the drive up I worked through one plot issue that had been bothering me. There was snow beside the road going over the pass into Ashland. The fall leaves were gorgeous as I drove into town, the air crisp with a hint of winter when I got out of the car. Stress melted away with the change of scene. I went to Elaine’s house for a fabulous dinner. It was great to have a leisurely evening to talk. I’ve known Elaine since I was a child (she worked with my parents for many years), but this is the first time I learned that she too loves The Scarlet Pimpernel. I showed her my SP blog posts and the online sites where you can download all the novels.

Both plays were wonderful. I think the productions had grown each richer, and I found myself noticing small details I’d missed the previous times. Elaine and I discussed the new nuances we’d noticed in The Music Man over dinner at the wonderful Chateaulin. Equivocation in particular was an inspiration for my current book, as it deals with power, monarchs, politics, and searching for the truth amid layers of intrigue. I didn’t try to write while I was on the trip, but over a latte and a fabulous portobello mushroom vegetarian eggs benedict at the Ashland Bistro Café the next day, I made notes for my book, inspired by the plays I’d just seen, particularly the tension between sovereigns and the politicians behind the throne. New ideas and connections sprang to mind.

I drove out of Ashland under a gray, drizzling sky, feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. I put Broadway musicals on the CD player and returned to pondering Act III of my book. Pieces I’d been struggling with fell into place with delightful ease. Not only was getting away good for me, it was creatively energizing. I returned home happy to get back to work.

Do you find getting away for a couple of days clears your thoughts for writing or other projects? Writers, where do you do your best writing thinking? What feeds your inspiration?

Be sure to check out Mélanie writing to Isobel Lydgate about the Peace Festival at the Congress of Vienna in the latest Fraser Correspondence addition.