Nov 12, 201212:55 AMPositive Vibes

A blog that explores authentic human connection

Catching tales on Martha's Vineyard

Nov 12, 2012 - 12:55 AM

I booked a trip to a bed and breakfast for writers in a remote part of Martha’s Vineyard because I needed to write. There—without so much as an Internet connection—writing could be my focus. In a week, I’d written a few dozen pages and met a community of island writers. A few days later, I returned home not only inspired, but with a new story to tell.

I got to know the encouraging owner of the B&B and the newspaper photographer who lived in a one-room cabin in the side yard. One night for dinner, a woman from town dropped off a fish she had caught that morning. As the owner of the B&B told me about the woman, I knew I had to meet her.  She sounded like a character worthy of story.

Lynn, the photographer, joined me to document the experience. Together we went to meet Janet Messineo, petite at 5’3”, yet one of the best fishermen and fish taxidermists on island. Lynn snapped shots as Janet showed us her process and supplies, from foam padding and glass eyeballs to paint brushes and fish gills.

That experience confirmed for me that some of my best work comes from leaving my own comfort and the daily distractions that entail. It also showed me that nothing compares to meeting people on the road. Hello is goodbye in virtually the same moment. As a writer, you have a very set time period in which you can hear stories, and they can tell stories.

Meeting Janet on Martha’s Vineyard wasn’t the first time this has happened to me, but the experience re-set my spirit. If you’re open-minded in your travel, you have the potential to meet people with amazing stories to tell—even if they don’t realize it, because to them, those stories make up their everyday, their comfort and distractions. If you’re lucky enough to see the inside track, to have an excuse to ask questions, those stories, like Janet’s, get the legs they need to do some traveling of their own.

Katie Scarlett Brandt is a Chicago-based writer and social media consultant. She co-wrote our Ireland travelogue and visited Ann Arbor for our Fall 2012 issue.

Photos above, taken by Katie, of Cleaveland House B&B exterior and interior (with self-portrait in mirror).

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