Where do you go when you daydream?
Sometimes, I go to the Bloody Meadow in Tewkesbury. The late summer sun has begun its descent in the west. I’m wandering the meadow in deep contemplation, oblivious to the sounds of traffic on the M5. Unlike the dry, brittle grass back home in Texas, the lush English grass is spongy and soft beneath my bare feet as I walk this infamous Wars of the Roses battlefield. Then my mind jumps far, far north to Hadrian’s Wall, built at the edge of the Roman world in the second century. The wind is loud and furious, whipping through my hair and making me feel sorry for the soldiers who had to build this strange wall in the middle of this harsh frontier.
Other times, I’m climbing the steep incline to Alhambra in Granada, full of wonder that 13th-century Moors overcame such a massive, physical obstacle to erect the magnificent, palatial fortress that lies above.
Still other times, I’m in Belgium, running a hand along the sides of a damp, dank, and terrifyingly narrow trench where WWI soldiers lived, fought, and died. I feel sick at the thought of what they endured. I force myself to stay and feel every emotion, both for the sacrifice they made and for my father – a WWI and WWII buff who never got to see this place.
As a fervent lover of history, I’ve been fortunate to see these places in person and to make some of my historical daydreams – however grisly – a reality.
Most of the time, my daydreams return me to the things I’ve been able to do and the places I’ve been able to go. Especially during this COVID-19 pandemic – when traveling down the street is a risk not worth taking – I think my imagination is anxious to return to the times when I got to stand with history. The times when old daydreams came to life.
But where do I go that’s yet unexplored?
To the Ring of Kerry, where my maternal great-grandmother was born and where she lived before immigrating to NYC at the turn of the 20th century. To Caernarfon in Wales. To a shallow river in northeastern Italy, where I splash across so I can actually say I crossed the Rubicon. To Alexandria and the Valley of the Kings.
I go to the many, many places I still want to see; the places where I still must pay homage, where the majesty of history awaits, and where I’ll learn whether my daydreams got it right. Will I feel the power of my Irish ancestry with every swell of the tumultuous Atlantic? Will I hear the march of Caesar’s troops at the river? Once I’m standing in modern-day Alexandria, will my mind’s eye still be able to see the great library burn?
Will reality keep up with my imagination?
These are the questions that fuel my daydreams.
Where you go in your daydreams is where your writing lives. It’s where your inspiration pulses, waiting for you to find its source – the beating heart of your imagination.
Make time for daydreams. Chances are, your book’s already written itself within one of them.