Historians are going to have a tough time recording all the things that have happened in the last few years. What’s more, it seems like 2020 is the grand finale in a string of “very interesting years” in our currently times. If you try to write about all the things that have happened in depth, you will be able to write volumes upon volumes about all the tumultuous things that have happened. Sometimes it’s hard to think back just five years ago and feel like it was still within this lifetime. But it’s true.
Now, you find yourself trying to write compelling fiction and it all seems relatively tame in comparison with the real world history being written before our eyes. But you’re sick of the real world. That’s part of why you write, to get away from it. If you ever find yourself at a loss for things to write, perhaps it’s time to take a stroll down history lane to other “very interesting” times.
That’s precisely why this writer is on his way to Gettysburg, PA, the site of the bloodiest battle in America during the Civil War.
Gettysburg – A Brief History
If you are not American, and have never hear about the battle or the famous Gettysburg Address, (Four score and seven years ago…) then here are some key facts about it:
- The battle was fought between July 1-3, 1863.
- It was the bloodiest battle in the Civil War, with more than 50,000 casualties during the three day battle.
- This was Gen. Robert E. Lee’s second invasion of the North, and a major turning point in the war.
- The North ultimately won the battle, after two days of heavy losses.
But what can a writer hope to really gain by going to a place like this?
The Power of Perspective
Even though we can watch documentaries and read books all day long, there’s nothing quite as powerful as standing at the place itself.
One of the greatest trips this writer ever took, which helped to better understand the place and time in which he lives, was to Williamsburg, VA, Washington, D.C. and Richmond, VA. In and around Williamsburg, you are able to see battlefields from the Civil War and the Revolutionary War, as well as the re-established American settlement where Patrick Henry gave his famous “give me liberty or give me death” speech, a recreated Jamestown settlement and the original Jamestown archaelogical site.
Along with Washington D.C. and Richmond, VA, the capitals of the United States of America and the short-lived Confederate States of America, it was an absolutely vital trip that gave perspective needed to start forming early ideas for an epic saga. The thought that these people, who should have been so much alike, were willing to die and kill one another because they could not agree on some key aspects of life, was a powerful thing to consider. This writer didn’t know it then, but it was helping him write before he ever decided to do so.
But that’s the way things have happened so often in our shared human history, isn’t it? People so fervently hate one another until there’s a boiling point and we fight and we die so that the other side loses and we win. Time and again it has happened, on all corners of the world.
No matter where you live, you will be able to find some key aspects or truths of humanity in visiting a place with great historical value. When you are there, absorb anything you can about the story of that place. Try to understand how people lived. Try to draw comparisons with the climate in which we live today. Understand what that all, ultimately means.
And then write.