Why not? Illumination certainly would make finding that long forgotten frozen bagged hunk of round steak you placed in there eight months ago an easier task. This is one of those questions that nobody has taken the time to answer.
How does this truth relate to writing? Again, you’ll have to stretch your imagination a bit, and use your creativity. When I read this I thought of freezers and lights and my mind leaped to exploring the world around us. Somebody had to make an observation and take note of it. A freezer doesn’t have a light. At least most don’t. My sister’s does, but her fridge and freezer is so crammed with stuff even she doesn’t know what’s in there and a light makes no difference because she hasn’t taken the time to explore and to throw away things. For example both she and her hubby know the six pack of beer has been expired for over a year but I guess they’re trying for the world’s record of how long they can keep cans of beer. On one of my visits I excavated two packages of beef sticks she thought had gone bad. They hadn’t and I snarfed one package by myself.
Anyway, I wanted to discuss exploring the world around you. For years I’ve explored. I drive down country roads and dirt roads and dead end roads until they prove to BE dead ends. I’ve unintentionally (and a few times intentionally) trespassed to see where the road led. One example of my exploring is the time I was coming home from Iowa City. I lived in Oskaloosa so I knew my destination. I knew the boundary roads of Highway 92 to the south, Interstate 80 to the north, and U.S. Highway 63 to the west. Whenever I encountered the southern or western boundary roads, I could just drive straight into Oskaloosa. Within that ‘box’ I could explore, usually by driving west until the first turn south, then south until the next turn west and so on. Country roads, paved roads, whatever.
Unfortunately, this trip occurred a day or two after a pretty good rain had passed through so some of the roads were muddy and some of the creeks running high. I don’t recall what small town I’d passed through before turning south again, this time onto a greasy road where my Olds Omega’s tires were getting little to no traction. I’d gone about a half mile and wound up looking at a high creek running over the road. I couldn’t risk traversing it so I turned around-barely-and headed back. But the tires were gaining no ground and about three hundreds yards from my goal, I had used a little too much pressure on the accelerator, gunning the engine and blew a gasket. What a mess. The tow truck driver wasn’t about to risk getting stuck and I was rescued by a farmer who drove his tractor in, hooked up a chain, and pulled me out.
You’d think I would have learned my lesson.
January 1, 2012, long about 2 am. I’m driving home from a friend’s house in Des Moines after a party and decide to do the zigzag route again. I knew my boundary roads but only got as far as Carlisle before I ran into trouble. I’d upgraded (ha!) from a Olds through several other cars to a glorified paperweight otherwise known as a Chevy Tracker. On the south side of Carlisle, just north of Highway 5, there is a road that leads out of town. And, just my luck, ran out of the right to be called a proper road. The entire area is a floodplain, made that way by Mother Nature. I descended from crest into pure mud since the previous year’s winter was warm and a little rainy. I managed to get about an eighth of a mile before giving up but, unfortunately, couldn’t get turned around and wound up half in the ditch.
However, I wasn’t the only fool out on the roads that night. Two other dumbheads had tried the same road before me and also wound up stuck. They were in worse condition because they were farther along. So, I walked back into town through ankle high mud and fifty mile per hour winds (which had knocked over the ROAD CLOSED sign) to call my friend to come pick me up.
My experience had a happy ending, though. The next morning when my dad (who was staying with friends in Des Moines) drove me back out there, we discovered that the mud had frozen over enough I could, with a little pushing, drive out without the help and the cost of a tow.
But this New Year’s experience netted me a scene for the next Mallory Petersen story. She will also get stuck out on that same stretch of road trying to follow an adulterer.
In Mallory’s second novel, Alpha, the climactic scene takes place at the Des Moines rail yard. The setting where I have the bad guys and good guys meet is a real place and I discovered it by, ahem, going where I wasn’t supposed to go but was only informed later that it was an indiscretion by a railroad representative who refused to assist me further in my research. Nuts to him, though, because I obtained what I wanted from other people. There is a dirt maintenance road on the perimeter of the rail yard and it dead ends under the East 30th Street bridge. I love the neighborhood and it was perfect for my story.
So I encourage you to explore your world. Don’t be afraid to drive down a lonely looking road or a dirt track. You might make a wonderful discovery or the experience may spark an idea for a story.
Sure, you run the risk of being the next victim of the mutated cannibals living in the shack by the swamp, but seriously, what are the odds?