I got so wrapped in writing about submissions yesterday that I totally forgot to do the Write on Wednesday prompt yesterday, but today, here I am . . . and once again, Becca nails a topic I’m absolutely enthralled in right now. Here it is:
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?
â€œThe loss of a place isnâ€™t really so different from the loss of a person. Both disappear without permission, leaving the self diminished, in need of testimony and evidence.â€ Bridge of Sighs, Richard Russo
Where I live now, while beautiful in many ways, is not home to me. I do not write from this place. I live in a development of townhomes in a community that is slowly transitioning from being a rural place to a suburban place. I live near the Chesapeake Bay, and it is beautiful – but I almost never get out to the water. I am a person who needs to live in the beauty that she wants; I can’t even bring myself to drive regularly to the places I’d rather be. So I do not write from this place, although I’m sure later in life, this place will appear in my writing.
Mostly, I write about a place I have lost – the Appalachian mountains. As most of you know, I grew up in the Smokies, and while much of what I feel is, I’m sure, nostalgia, I absolutely crave that place, those mountains, that culture, in the center of my body. Just now writing about the mountains – their gray-green color and soft light – made my solar plexus tingle with the mildest form of pain. I feel like my life and my writing have always been about getting back to that place, seeking out that slowness that only nature provides.
Just yesterday, I was thinking about the way that writing makes me feel, and I can only say expansive, like I don’t have a roof over my head. Then, in that same series of thoughts, I began to think about my own house, with its ceilings that seem low, even though they are 9 feet high. I want to write up into the sky, and I think that’s some of what the mountains give me – that feeling of sitting beyond life, life that is often painful and chaotic. And so I write that place now, often. . . returning again and again in my writing to Western North Carolina if not in content then in tone . . . slow, indulgent, easy.
Ellis Paul has a wonderful song called “Speed of Trees” where he talks about the speed at which life should be lived:
Your love makes me move at the
Speed of trees
Iâ€™ve laid down some roots
Grown a head full
But up above me
Where the angels soar
Theyâ€™re rattlinâ€™ windows
Blowinâ€™ down doors
They look at me here
Iâ€™m planted square down
On my knees
On my knees
On my knees
Iâ€™m asking for the speed of trees
That’s what I’m looking for in my life and in my writing – the place where I can live and write at the speed of trees.
– “Where Mystery Resides” – D L Ennis