Write What You Know

When I first started writing for Deadwood Writers’ Voices a few months ago, I agonized over what I was going to write about. Then I went to California. There I read some letters that members of my family, who I’d heard about but never met, had written long ago. The letters brought them to life. I could hear my relatives speaking in their own words. I felt that we’d finally met.

I started writing their stories. That was very helpful, besides being enjoyable. I didn’t have to ask myself each month, what am I going to write about? I knew. I was going to write the next part of the story.

Now the series is finished. I need to find something new to write about. This morning I decided to try a different approach. Instead of panicking, I was going to do what all the books said: Write what you know. To be honest, I didn’t have much faith in this approach, but what did I have to lose?

I decided to go swimming. It’s my favorite form of exercise: 45 minutes in the warm water pool going back and forth. I feel so good afterwards, relaxed, happy, stress free. The icing on the cake is I’ve actually lost a few pounds along the way.

It was a perfect day. The sun was shining. It was still cool outside. I felt energized.

I threw my swim bag in the front seat, popped into my car and started driving. It’s eight minutes from my garage to a parking spot at the WCC Health Club.

I drove out of the condo and turned left to go down Dixboro Road. Wow! All I could see on my side of the street was a line of red taillights and not one of them was moving. Ugh! It was five minutes to nine.

The first intersection was exactly one mile south on Geddes. It handles all the cars of people going to work coming down Dixboro and those exiting from I-23 to go down East Huron River Drive to get to Washtenaw Community College, St. Joseph Mercy Hospital and, most important to me, the Health Club.

It’s always busy this time of day but never like this: One mile of taillights and no one moved. This was a first! Then I remembered last night’s storm. The stoplight at the corner was probably out. And, knowing the Ann Arbor police, they probably hadn’t sent anyone to direct traffic. Their philosophy is, “Let them work it out.”

In the distance, I could see the headlights of three cars coming toward me. Suddenly the two cars in front of me made very fast U-turns and went up Woodridge Avenue to my right.

Mmmmm. If I’m quick, I could do the same thing. That would take me to Earhart, which would bring me to Plymouth Road where I could get on #I-23 and go south around this mess to Washtenaw Avenue. Then I could turn up Golfside and, voilà, I’d be there. In other words I could make a circle going west around the whole area, come in from the east side and have my swim after all. It shouldn’t take more than about ten minutes.

Congratulating myself on my quick thinking, I turned onto Plymouth Road and drove across the top of I-23 so I could get on the ramp going south.

“Ugh!” was all I could say. Looking down at the southbound lanes I wanted to cry. No one was moving there either. It was just one long parking lot.

O.K. now it’s time for another brilliant idea and this one better work. I could go south on Green Road, then west a little to Huron River Parkway. I could still make the western circle and I’d be down on Washtenaw, which hopefully would be moving.

Then I looked up. Straight ahead, Plymouth Road was stopped. The light was red. The intersection was clogged. No one was going in any direction and it didn’t look like anyone would be anytime soon.

Suddenly, although the sun was still shinning and the air was crisp, it wasn’t such a beautiful day anymore.

Luckily I was able to maneuver myself into the left lane and turn into the strip mall. I drove past Zamaaman’s, the Korean Restaurant, and turned left past Busch’s. Now I could skip the sea of cars at the light and exit onto Green Road.

Heading south on Green Road, I started to smile again: no traffic. The same was true on Huron Parkway. I just floated along and made a left onto Washtenaw and even that wasn’t too bad.

Best of all, every light was working all the way east to Golfside. I turned left at East Huron River Drive, drove past St. Joe’s and into the WCC Health Club’s parking lot at exactly 9:33. Not bad, only 38 minutes to drive what should have taken eight!


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    • Kelly Bixby on October 16, 2014 at 11:09 pm
    • Reply

    Claire, I’d say you know your way around Ann Arbor and the surrounding communities very well. That knowledge served you well in more ways than one.

      • Claire Murray on October 17, 2014 at 7:26 am
      • Reply

      Thanks, Kelly.

    • Claire Murray on September 22, 2014 at 12:33 pm
    • Reply

    Thanks! I appreciate what you’ve said.

    1. Keep on drivin’ 🙂

        • Claire Murray on September 22, 2014 at 2:15 pm
        • Reply


  1. I enjoyed this very much. Been there many a time. Sounds like you’re an accomplished escape artist, even when there’s no way out.

    • Claire Murray on September 21, 2014 at 6:43 pm
    • Reply

    Thanks! For awhile I was wondering if I’d be going anywhere. 🙂

    • Sue Remisiewicz on September 21, 2014 at 6:20 pm
    • Reply

    Glad you got to where you wanted to go – both for your swim and finding a subject to write about!

    • Claire Murray on September 21, 2014 at 6:07 pm
    • Reply

    Thanks! That’s nice to hear.

    • Book Lover on September 21, 2014 at 5:29 pm
    • Reply

    I enjoyed your slice-of-life story. I wonder how many people have been stuck in traffic and looked for a way out.

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