write on wednesday … on the first weds in Sept

September 3, 2008 § 6 Comments

How about you? How does place figure in your writing?  Do you feel comfortable in the place you live, or do you feel at odds with your atmosphere? Do you convey that in your writing?  What stories does your location have to tell?


Oh, boy, Becca opens a Pandora’s box with this one…but I will endeavor to be brief.

Generally: It’s quite complicated, I think. But if I’m sitting in a good place, I can better get to the place I want to write, and then “place” is always, always, a very important part of the writing. I totally blank out on my immediate surroundings as I go to the place I’m writing about.
I’m a camera.
The page is my film.
I am a sincere believer in “setting.” Even if it’s via one line. One good strong simple line.

Writing in the Midwest: If you had asked, I would never ever have guessed I’d be a writer in the middle of the country.  Everyone knows it works well in Iowa. But, Missouri? And yet it is working out fine, but keep the following in mind (and no, they are not complaints, but hey, I’m an urban Pisces who adores a skyline with an ocean view): 
Here there are no mountains. (like the Adirondacks where I grew up)
There is no ocean view. (like Florida, another place we lived)
There is no pulsing honking uptown downtown 24-hour energy. (like NY or Atlanta or LA)
There are no green rolling hills (like Vermont)
And yet it works. It’s working. (It’s the people and the approachability.)

Nutshell: So, am I at odds with my atmosphere/surroundings? Usually, no. But I tend  to step back and observe, rather than to throw myself into the Missouri fray (so to speak).  So, maybe that shows in what I write. Or, maybe it’s missing.

Stories my location tells: hmmm…er…well aside from the Twain thing, what stories are told by this location? many…many…many…as there would be in any place, I think. It’s not just a river thing here. Nor  is it simply fields of wheat and corn. Or catfish. It’s rich.

Geez, I should get busy telling some tales of “here.”

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§ 6 Responses to write on wednesday … on the first weds in Sept

  • shoreacres says:

    Here it is: “I totally blank out on my immediate surroundings as I go to the place I’m writing about”. Yep, me too. Thus, the dishes in the sink, etc.

    But you were right about the Zen-serenity-thing. I just didn’t realize it until I went to work this morning. At work, on a boat, I’m solitary. There’s no one to bother me, no one to ask questions, no one to interrupt. I have blue sky and breezes and water and baby ducks – and all the time in the world to think. So, there’s the serenity. It’s there when I think, if not when I write. It’s a treasure.

    As for Missouri – where my relatives live – it’s the Show Me state. So, we need you to show us!

  • jeanie says:

    I find this discussion of place very interesting and a tad difficult to get my brain around. I think it’s so important, and I make up place-narratives in my head, but — well, I think who writes in Michigan?! Very thoughtful post! (And thanks for listing me on your blog roll. I’m going to update mine, hopefully this weekend or early next week and you’ll be there, too!)

  • anno says:

    Sometimes I think that place is like oxygen: vital, but hard to notice; one of those assumptions that unconsciously feeds our work, but if we start to think about it too much can make us trip (metaphorically) over our own feet.

    As for who writes in Missouri… Joseph Pulitzer was at least born there. And so were Maya Angelou and Tennessee Williams. Just a little inspiration for you!

  • oh says:

    Linda – yes, yes – you got what I mean about the zen- thing. IN your writing, you appear so calm, so thoughtful, you take your time. I sit here like a woodpecker sometimes, tapping furiously at the keys.(then edit like crazy!) Anyway, yes, hmmm, a story from teh show me state. I do have one, somewhere. Nah, I’ll just go forward with something new.

    Me, too, Jeanie. I couldn’t really verbalize as well on this one. Place is kind of always there, a big part of backstory in ANYTHING we’re writing…glad this prompt was not an essay on my English exam way back then.

    Anno – you’re right! there are dozens of writers from here. There’s a “star” walk on Delmar Blvd and whenever I”m there, I’m reminded.

  • seachanges says:

    Yes, I so agree: writing about places is very complicated and places change as you get into the mood of them, or rather, your characters do, if you see what I mean. You can sit down and try to write about a certain place as you know it, but then the writing takes over and all places become imaginary, as you see them at that time and for that particular story.
    I realise I’m a bit late coming to this post, but I’ve enjoyed reading your comments on place and that you need to blank out where you actually are in order to get to the place you want to write about. That’s it.

  • oh says:

    Seachanges, I am now quite “behind’ in my blog reading and shoutouts to others…hope to catch up this evening. Must see where you’ve been recently and what the weather (actual, reading and writing weather) is in your fair (and fabulous) country.

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