Things I Never Would Have Imagined
Recently I went up to San Francisco to look at some locations where I’m setting scenes in the novel I’m writing. I had been to most of the places before, though not recently. Others I had never visited. While I was writing the first draft, I used Google Images, Google Street View, pictures in Yelp, my own photos, and web searches to give me an idea of the locations. However, pictures can only show, at best, what a place looks like. They cannot tell what a place smells like, sounds like, feels like. Using memories and imagination, I populated the scenes with sights, smells, sounds, and temperatures to fit the scenes.
However, I was unwilling to rely only on images and imagination, so recently I went up to San Francisco on a whirlwind tour of locations for the book. Though sometimes my imagination hit a detail spot on (yes, it was very windy at Alta Plaza Park), mostly I was struck by all the things I saw that were more interesting and unique than I imagined. For example, the woman in Golden Gate Park wearing a ball cap with brown feathers on the sides, like a redneck Wagnerian helmet. The graffiti heart atop the staircase at Fort Mason. The man carrying a cymbal under his arm at the Ferry Building. The whales surfacing off Point Lobos.
The bride and groom taking wedding pictures in front of City Hall:
The pink ballet slipper tossed over the wall at the Sutro Baths overlook:
The woman sweeping the rocks in the Academy of Science’s penguin exhibit.
The homemade Batmobile parked at Land’s End.
I’m not sure which (or any) of these unexpected sights will make it into the book. But this trip reminded me of how strange and wonderful the world is—much more so than we imagine. We just have to look.
5/17/2017 03:43:01 pm
Karen, it is a strange and wonderful world, and San Francisco is a strange and wonderful city!
5/17/2017 04:05:22 pm
Ann, this is so wonderful and what a great reminder! Look around! I too often miss the amazement right there under my nose. Thanks for this.
5/17/2017 04:09:42 pm
Thanks, Rebecca, and thanks for reading!
5/18/2017 02:39:18 pm
Ann, It was the ballet slipper that gave me the most pause. What story does it hold.
5/18/2017 03:11:35 pm
I agree! Although I did also wonder about the person who built a Batmobile out an Oldsmobile and plywood.
5/18/2017 04:33:37 pm
I loved your pictures, and the details. You have a great eye. I can't wait to your book.
5/18/2017 04:37:19 pm
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Ann Hillesland writes fiction and essays. Her work has appeared in many literary journals, including Fourth Genre, Bayou, The Laurel Review, and Sou’wester.
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