When asked for topics several months ago, I offered this week’s choice:
“Moves or other locales…how have they affected your writing?”
And honestly, I guess I needed to be more specific. I meant where one writes, not where one has visited or lived, yet that was the impression my colleagues here received.
I didn’t ask IF they were affected, but HOW. Any experience, especially life-changing, (like a move), will affect a person’s life and therefore, affect their writing.
I was certain that we were going to read about their ‘Writer’s Retreats”, something that I have never gotten to do and wonder if I would be able to drop my cares behind and produce at will. (I think that I could). I was sure that I would read about the difference in writing in one setting or another, but no. We did get great insights into their lives and how other places where they had lived affected them
and I enjoyed every second of it!
Any place you visit, any people that you meet, any different cultures to which you are exposed will make you a better person, let alone a better writer. Growing up in Washington, DC gave me no end to people of different places and cultures and I am so glad of the exposure to them. I have to say that I truly miss it, or being in nearly any big city, (or in my case, generally the suburbs).
But that is not what I had meant to evoke, and I have never been more pleased to be misunderstood in my life.
It’s wonderful to learn more about our friends and their backgrounds. Everyone has a story and I found many more interesting factors in The Hound and other Foxes than I had learned in the past.
I decided to amend to my original post here, to follow the lead of the earlier posts this week.
Without going through my entire life story, suffice it to say that moving to the desert southwest Idaho from the Washington, DC suburbs was an experience that was not anywhere near what had been hoped.
That is putting it too mildly, oh, way too mildly.
However, it was an experience, filled with other experiences,
many of them total boredom.
(I wasn’t alone. Roger Miller said that he wrote “King of the Road “while bored in Idaho; not that I have ever claimed to be able to write a song like Roger Miller could.)
We had few close neighbors. I got to know the closest neighbor’s cows better than they themselves. They were friendly, but hard-working, older people who were not home much. Their daughter, who was closer to my age, moved in with her little girl, but we had nothing in common. She was wrapped up in her child and man-hunting. The woman on the other side also had little in common with me, but she was an outsider, too, a New York Puerto Rican out of her element. She was also multi-married, with a number of children, with a recent husband and baby. So, as amusing and sometimes insightful as Maria could be, we really didn’t get to be terribly close, and she had a lot on her plate.
The area was run by one prominent religious sect, to which I did not belong. There were some wonderful people of that persuasion who I greatly admired and with whom I had friendly relationships, but even they were not ‘in power’; and most of them had it less easy than it should have been. I also worked with many ‘Navy wives’ before the armed services fully integrated female sailors. I found friendly people from all over, but again, I had little in common with most of these people and they had little room for me; I had one friend, but we only spoke before, after and at work; her time, second job and marriage was overwhelming her.
My sister’s life in Idaho, (and therefore the rest of ours), did not work out. She started her songwriting back up and got me into it. I did and took a minor award in the big song festival my sister had been chasing after for years.
But I left to marry my old boyfriend from Virginia and moved to Denver, where he had gotten a job. That was also fraught with challenges and not the smooth ride we anticipated. We would go to the mountains all the time. We would visit the great museums. We traveled socially in a small circle, though. I made up stories for kids, or often, changed standard stories to make them laugh. However, after a while I wrote, (articles mostly), for school concerns. I did the same after we moved to Kentucky, and other added another direction to my life.
I will not go into all of the lessons God has thrown at us here.
Again, I found myself in a small town run mostly by religious factions, though the prominent one was my own. However, I did not realize that at the time nearly everyone was related. The town was settled a couple of hundred years ago by 60 families and they had an iron-fist grip on everything that went on, (and still do, despite more of we ‘Brought-ins” arriving). Even they were split into factions. I’d say, “It’s the cousins they deal with and the cousins they don’t”. When we arrived there were two main drug stores, two main hardware stores, two main grocery stores, (you get the idea). One ‘side’ traded with one, the other ‘side’ traded with the other. I literally could not get service in some of these; I got little in others. Even the friendly people here simply did not have time for me. They had large families, they married young and the people lived long. Five generations were common here; (five generations in my family would put us back to the 1700s). Their friends were life-long. IF they let me join a group, all the plans and meetings were usually changed without my knowledge because they spoke among themselves. I showed up to several meetings to find myself alone; they were canceled without anyone telling me. I’d reserve church space, only to find it taken away for one of the Families’ last minute gatherings.
It was hard; I had always been active in churches and for devotions. When they still had evening rosary devotions here, it was a cat-fight as to who was going to lead what Mystery, I kid you not. They now ship in ‘clergy’ who don’t care because the people don’t. We need a thorough cleaning of The Church, not the building…btw, they wouldn’t let me help clean the building; that was another power-struggle among the families.
There’s more, but I have gone on enough. I just want you to understand my frustration and why I spend so much time on the computer…and writing. Still, they have been experiences, you know?
What was going to be a letter in reply to a plea from a person in The Husband’s alma mater newsletter for meatless recipes turned into a pamphlet and then was going to be a book, but it turned into a blog. A friend that I met through a prayerline, (oh, I was on LOTS of prayerlines!), also wrote and got me to enter another contest, this one for poetry. I was published there two years in a row for what was to be a book, but also ended up going online. I got the fortitude to go after getting more published and did a couple of small articles again, (and later a major one).
It was easy to get online and to write because it was hard otherwise here. I feel, and have felt, very isolated, emotionally and intellectually. On top of it all, the person who brought us out here had made enemies, which we did not realize. She died before she could make good on her promises and expectations, but, again, I will not go into it all. With doors closing and opening, my family had come out and among other things, the companionship of one grown niece helped.
I wrote a lot in my head while I was working at a couple of jobs where I was on my own much of the time, which was fine, better than trying to deal with the dramas around me and the writing kept me sane.
The aforementioned niece later worked with me for a while. We ran a bakery/restaurant and talked books while we cooked and cleaned. She put me onto several series and, long story short, that is how I became friendly with a blogger who had interviewed a favorite author of ours, on whose blog I helped distribute excerpts from another famous author’s then-newest book. That is how I met the Hound, who invited me to visit this blog and how I became a Fox,
all because we got to talking as how we found ourselves as fellow transplants to Kentucky, meeting on a Texan’s site.
I have been back to also doing children’s writing,(for grandkids), and with ideas from family, experiences from people here. My imagination gets to run wild with the quiet here, the lack of constant interaction with people,
or escape from the ones who are and aren’t fun!
I would have loved to have written in the mountains, but I was always there with young children. I would love to sit overlooking a city to write, but I am not there. Gosh, how I would love to again sit at a beach, or better yet, be back on a boat and write, but I only did that long ago and the writing was in my head; I am totally landlocked now. I would love to now write out in my over-grown yard when it is all green, but it’s hot and buggy then.
Silver linings: Boredom and isolation, ups and downs, city and country benefits and trials, frustration and escapism, faith and keeping love in one’s heart, all add to where I have been and how it affects my writing.