07 June 2009

Thanks for Chicago

Yeah, I haven't blogged much lately. That's because nothing much bloggable has come up as a topic, and I would rather post nothing than post blather. So, enough about that.

Last week I finally got to come up for air and go on vacation. I went to Chicago because:
  • I had never been there, but knew lots of people who had either lived there or visited for extended periods of time, and they all said I should go.
  • Due to the above reason, I had set part of my first novel in Chicago during the 1950s-early 1960s, and thought it might *cough* be a good idea for me to research what the place was like then, and book learning wasn't going to get me all the way there.
  • Quite frankly, it was a cheap quick flight & hotel combo and I just needed to be somewhere completely new to me so I could get out of my head and reflect a bit.
As it turned out, I got lucky on all three points. The friends and co-workers who had told me I should go were all right, and all for totally different reasons. I learned enough about the history and the architecture that I think I can make it through that part of my novel without including any major howlers*. And yeah, I got out of my head — and noticed things that would fit with the novel that I never knew about before. Of the two novels I have written in draft mode so far, this one has been weird to write because every time I think it's not working out, I find these absolutely stunning coincidences out in the real world that have to do with things I made up for the story. Even though I'm dreading doing the second draft on this story (as opposed to my second novel, which seems to have worked out much better), fate seems to be telling me to finish the damn thing, even if I don't like it very much.

As for Chicago itself: I'm glad I stuck to near the lake. I get nervous if I'm too far away from a major body of water for too long. And as touristy as it is, I'm glad I went to the Sears Tower the morning of my first day there. It was a good orientation and the audio tour that went with my ticket helped a lot with street navigation during the rest of the trip.

My acid test of any city is that it should make you happy just to walk down a random street and see what there is to see along it, whether you've known them all your life or are seeing them for the first time. Chicago passed that, easily.

Here's the photos I took, for what they're worth (the photo of the sculpture is a link):


*The truth is, the vast majority of the story set in Chicago happens inside a house. The vast majority of the parts that don't occur inside a restaurant. So really I didn't have to research this a lot. But now that I have, I have lots of other information to draw from.

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