A Tourist Trap for Creatives

I just got back from a weekend in Wisconsin, visiting the House on the Rock for the third time. Two questions might come to mind: why keep going back, and what does that have to do with writing?

For me, the answer to both those questions are intertwined. Alex Jordan, the architect for House on the Rock and the visionary behind its collections, believed that “sights and sounds were the most effective means of stimulating the senses.” As such, his collections include everything from the world’s largest carousel to a two-hundred-foot statue of a sea monster to 250 unique, fully furnished dollhouses. Although the House on the Rock could be considered a museum, it lacks the “explanation” present in most museums. Hardly any of the displays include information about where items came from, their significance, or their make-up. This is because Alex wanted guests to “question his creation and . . . turn his world of dreams into their own.” For me, wandering through the dimly-lit, oddly arranged rooms of the House on the Rock is a bit like taking a journey into the subconscious, the most fertile ground for creativity. Every time I leave, I’m left with a sort of doubt that I really spent six hours in this surreal place.

I’m not the only writer who has picked up on this. Speculative fiction author Neil Gaiman used the House on the Rock as a setting in his urban fantasy, American Gods.  Some readers think he made the House on the Rock up for the purposes of the book. But no, a place this bizarre really does exist.


(Yes, those accordions are “playing themselves.”)

After getting home last night, I stayed up into the wee hours catching up on my blog reading, and I found out from a friend’s book blog that August has its own writing challenge: Write Fifteen Minutes a Day. Daily writing is a good habit for any writer to get in, fifteen minutes is a manageable goal, and there’s so much writing to choose from: journal entries, book reviews, blog posts, fiction, non-fiction, content for pay, poetry, letters, and more. I wish I had known about this earlier, but it’s never too late to take up a writing challenge! I’m not considering myself entered in the formal sense, but this will be a good reminder to me — along with my dorky writing spreadsheet — that I ought to put some more words out there in the universe every day, just because I can.