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.

7 Responses to “A Tourist Trap for Creatives”

  1. spoonbridge

    Yes, that’s a very apt description of the House on the Rock, “tourist trap for creatives.” I’m glad I finally got to experience it. I also wrote a little reaction piece after I got back summing up my thoughts; http://www.43places.com/person/Spoonbridge/entries
    I’m thinking of polishing it up at submitting it to a local ‘zine in Mankato.

    I also like the 15 minutes a day writing thing; the hardest part in writing is to get started, I think and just writing for fifteen minutes can be the beginning for a good project.

    Reply
  2. Lacey Louwagie

    Your review on 43places is great–it definitely captures the overall feel of the place and has a nice personal touch, too. You should definitely submit it locally, and perhaps beyond. I’ll let you know if I come across any travel websites that might be potential markets — although you seem to have a bigger repertoire of roadside attraction websites than I do. :)

    I still can’t believe we were there just one day apart from one another. Perhaps great minds don’t only think alike, but travel alike as well. 😉

    Reply
  3. enigmawing

    I heard and read so much about the House on the Rock when I lived in the area that I cannot believe I never got around to visiting it before moving out west. I really think it would have been right up my alley too, but we usually ended up going to the Dells or the Circus Museum instead.

    Maybe I can go back one of these days. 😀

    Reply
    • Lacey Louwagie

      Aw, what a bummer. As kids, we did the Circus Museum on the same trip as House on the Rock, and the House was definitely the climax of the trip. :) You should see if you can make it back.

      Reply
  4. Jenna

    I would love to visit there someday. (And I kind of want to reread “American Gods” again, too.)

    Reply
  5. Lacey Louwagie

    I hope you are able to go someday, and you should re-read American Gods when you go. If you need a buddy to go with you, let me know. I’d be up for Visit #4.

    Reply
  6. Jenna

    I was hoping you’d be there. 😉 I’ll let you know.

    Reply

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