How the Ozarks Inspire My Writing
Did you ever try to study in a section of your school that’s really high traffic? Say, maybe a student convocation center? The kind of place where you feel completely self-conscious? Or did you ever grab a chair in the library in order to catch up on those last few chapters of Bio reading, at the same time hoping you’d accidentally “bump into” your crush, who just happens to work in the library after school? Ever try to do your math homework on the bus, while dreading the fact that you’re going home because you had a horrendous fight with your parents or sibling over breakfast that morning?
Yeah. Doesn’t work, does it? If your mind is occupied, the words in the textbook in front of you blur, don’t they?
Let me ask you something else: Have you ever tried to write a term paper in a room without any heat? Have you ever tried to read a novel for English sitting in the rain? Have you ever tried doing a science experiment wearing a lab coat so small that it cinched you in like a corset, and you couldn’t breathe?
Now you’re shaking your head. “That’s dumb,” you’re saying. “I’d never try to do that.”
And the reason you’d never try it is because it’d be impossible. Nobody can work when they’re uncomfortable. Nobody.
Writing’s a lot like schoolwork, in that it takes an inordinate amount of mental alertness and focus. And with any mental task, you have to be comfortable to be productive. Period.
Comfort, in my book, can be either physical or mental. The physical stuff’s fairly easy to remedy, most times. Too cold? Put on another pair of socks. Hungry? Grab a granola bar. The mental comfort is a bit trickier to obtain. Going back to my original examples, when your mind is elsewhere—on what others might think of you, or your crush, or a previous fight—you can’t focus on the task at hand. If you’re plagued by chronic worries, you’re not comfortable—and worry really isn’t something you can just turn off.
But for me, the Ozarks really are comfortable. The Ozarks give me peace of mind and peace of being…Stuff you can’t easily obtain just anywhere. Springfield’s like that old pair of favorite jeans you always gravitate toward. My mind is quiet here, so I get to work full-bore…and that’s why, for me, the Ozarks can be such a fantastic place to write in.