I Didn’t Go Very Far

Moves or other locales…how have they affected your writing? 

This is an interesting topic for me. I live right across the street from the house I was raised in. After my husband and I got married we moved to North Carolina for a little over a year. I made some good friends there, but to be honest it wasn’t that different from the little South Carolina town where I grew up.

I also lived in Virginia for a year or so. I loved living there. The place where we lived was just across the river from Petersburg, and of course Richmond and Washington as well as Jamestown and Williamsburg weren’t far away. This was a bigger place so I was exposed to some different ways of thinking and doing things. This place didn’t feel like the little town I grew up in.

Of course eventually we moved back to our hometown. We bought a house near my parents because I was going back to school, and they were very helpful as babysitters. My dad especially was happy. He never had any sons, and I gave him two grandsons.

We traveled some over the years. We toured Europe, went to Disney World, and we had a great vacation in Arizona. We flew to Arizona and rented a car and toured the state. It was loads of fun. We also explored the Pacific Northwest which we though was incredibly beautiful.

I suppose all of these places helped me create an atmosphere and a sense of place in my work, but mostly when I write I decide where I want the book to be located, and then I do extensive research about that area of the world. You’d be surprised what you can learn from the internet.

Would my writing have been the same without my limited travel experiences? No, probably not. Each time we moved or visited a new location we absorbed new values and attitudes, and that had to influence an author’s final product no matter how much online research she does.

Readers, I’m curious. How many of you still live in the town where you grew up?

About Elaine Cantrell

Elaine Cantrell was born and raised in South Carolina. She has a Master’s Degree in Personnel Services from Clemson University and is a member of Alpha Delta Kappa, an international honorary sorority for women educators. She is also a member of Romance Writers of America. Her first novel A New Leaf was the 2003 winner of the Timeless Love Contest and was published in 2004 by Oak Tree Press. When she isn't writing you can find Elaine playing with her dog or maybe collecting more vintage Christmas ornaments
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8 Responses to I Didn’t Go Very Far

  1. Jeff Salter says:

    The “main” town I grew up in — Covington LA — was where I went to 1st through 9th and then 11th & 12th grades (after a year elsewhere). But I also RETURNED to that town a few other times: after a year at college, nearly a year in the next parish (county), and later after 2.5 yrs in the Air Force. So that little town had been my “homing” place, I guess you could say. Each time I returned, it was a bit different and I realized I had missed certain important developments / changes. Yet it was still familiar and comfortable and I still knew many people who’d never left (or who’d gone to college, then returned). So I always think of that town as my home… even though it’s been over 22 years since my last visit (when I was selling the house I grew up in).


  2. Patricia Kiyono says:

    As I mentioned on Monday, I live very close to the home where I grew up – but just a little farther than you! I guess I’ll always consider West Michigan home, and for my contemporary works this seems to be my default setting. You’re right, the internet can be extremely helpful when writing about other places, but whenever possible, I prefer to write about places I’ve at least visited.


    • The internet is a boon to writers, I agree. At least there is a good effort at research. I have yet to research a place and find that I got the right idea, no matter how much research I did. Except for the geological, the rest just does not come through, for good or for bad, and the atmosphere is not at all what you can expect without experiencing it. Neighborhood/processing smells, major humidity or lack thereof, sea/mountain breezes are just nothing you can ‘pick up’ without experiencing it.


    • Elaine Cantrell says:

      it does add another dimension to the writing.


  3. Elaine Cantrell says:

    Tonette, I guess it’s meant for you too after I read your comment.


  4. I still live in the same town I grew up in. My parents still own the house they bought right before I was born though the house itself had to be rebuilt after a fire.


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