Where Writing is Wrought

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.

About Tonette Joyce

Tonette was a once-fledgling lyricists-bookkeeper, turned cook/baker/restaurateur and is now exploring different writing venues,(with a stage play recently completed). She has had poetry and nonfiction articles published in the last few years. Tonette has been married to her only serious boyfriend for more than thirty years and she is, as one person described her, family-oriented almost to a fault. Never mind how others have described her, she is,(shall we say), a sometime traditionalist of eclectic tastes.She has another blog : "Tonette Joyce:Food,Friends,Family" here at WordPress.She and guests share tips and recipes for easy entertaining and helps people to be ready for almost anything.
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9 Responses to Where Writing is Wrought

  1. jbrayweber says:

    Every experience (bored, unwelcome, frustrating, or seemingly lost) doesn’t necessarily get lost or wasted. Even now, as you tell us these tidbits, you are sharing interesting tidbits about yourself and life. I appreciate that. And of course, many of these people you speak of can have an impression on the stories and characters you write. Good stuff, I’d say!

    By the way, I highly recommend a writing retreat. For some, the words just pour out. For others, it’s all about brainstorming with friends. And still for others, it’s the connection with like-minded peers that refreshes them. Win, win, win all the way around! Retreats don’t have to be in some cabin in the woods or a luxury vacation spot. I’ve participated in some that were local day-long event at someone’s house or rented space.

    Great post, Tonette!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks,Jenn! It isn’t what I planned and I was afraid that I rambled. The likelihood of my going on a writer’s retreat is pretty nil. I’d really have to travel and between health-concerns and the fact that 10 minutes ago I got the word that I need a new oven,(to the tune of over $1,200.00 because it’s an undersized wall unit that isn’t common), I’m afraid any travel will be out. There are no writers here that I have met that are easy to associate with.


      • jbrayweber says:

        Maybe a virtual retreat? Sorry about your oven. I’m having issues with my washer. *sigh* We just lost the fridge. I don’t have the $ for a new washer, too. So I feel your pain. Good luck with it!


  2. Jeff Salter says:

    All part of the process — of life and of writing.
    I’d forgotten how you and I met, Tonette. Through the blog of a Texan? My memory strains…
    Love your description of the small town atmosphere with two warring factions of a larger “split” family. Sounds a bit like the Capulets and Montagues. I wonder how two young lovers would fare if one came from each camp?


    • Oh, since there were only 60 families, (and some names have died out), and it’s been since the 1700s, there has been a LOT of intermarriages. It’s kind of ‘choose your sides’ situation. They fight like the dickens and then all attend church or social clubs together, which is again one of the reasons why you can’t insinuate yourself into the inner circles.
      But enough complaints. It’s been a ride I’ve been on for nearly 27 years, and God has used it to purify me through fire, and I have needed SOME of it! (The rest I’ll learn at the END).

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Patricia Kiyono says:

    Sorry I misunderstood your prompt. It never occurred to me that you were talking about where we write. I’ve been lucky enough to attend several writing retreats – mostly because I belong to two writing groups, and both of them are full of people who love to gather away from everyday concerns, and write for a full weekend. Most of them take place in rural areas, perhaps an hour or two away from where I live. I’ve hosted a few at a vacation home on the shore of Lake Michigan, and I find being near the water helps me relax and let my mind go into my character’s head. But I’ve also benefitted from retreats held at a home in the pastures of Central Michigan! The Mystery Writers Group used to simply rent several rooms at a local hotel for these retreats, and use the common rooms in the hotel for brainstorming sessions. I think being physically separated from everyday concerns is freeing for some people.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. As I said, I am glad that I wasn’t clearer, for I loved what you told us in your post. Thanks for leading the way. I am really always glad to be the last post of the week and this time, especially. I’d love to do a retreat.


  5. trishafaye says:

    Fascinating post! What a great idea you had – even if it all came off as unintended. Now I have to do some catch up for the week and read the others.
    It was an enjoyable post to read!

    Liked by 1 person

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