The Influence of Location

Monday, July 5, 2010
When I started out with this blog last October, one of the main ideas I wanted to explore was what it meant to be a rural writer, instead of a struggling writer stuck in suburbia or in a crappy downtown apartment. I’m not sure how much I’ve actually explore that theme in the nine months I’ve been maintaining this blog: more than anything this has become a writer’s diary and ramblings, be that good or bad. But the influence of location has always intrigued me. Does living in a place that can look like this:
Or this:

Or this:

Or this:

Have an effect on how the words show up on the page?

In college I had the bright idea of combining a spring break trips with an exploration of how filmmakers treat “real” locations when using them to represent imagined locations in film adaptions of a literary works. I figured it would be an interesting independent study course. It turned out to be an awful independent study project that required an extension and by the time I received my final grade, the project had morphed into a thesis completely unrecognizable from the original idea I'd wanted to explore. But I was still intrigued. What influence does location have on us? More specifically, what influence does location have on our imaginations?

Yesterday at the Grand Opening, I ran into a published writer who had seen some of my freelance work. He complimented me on my work (which was very nice) and then we talked a little bit about the lack of writers in the area.

“We have a ton of craftsmen and artists up here,” he said. “But not too many writers.”

“I don’t get it,” I said. “This is a great place to write.”

In my Bylines calendar, the other week, the writer of the week, Deborah Elliott-Upton, wrote about misconceptions people often have about writers. “We don’t all own cabins in the woods with a scenic panorama to inspire our words or upscale offices where we can be alone with our thoughts,” she said. But some of us are just lucky enough to be surrounded by beauty and stillness on a daily basis. That doesn’t mean we always have time to soak up our luckiness: holding down a fulltime job for the last couple months has certainly affected the amount of words that get down on the page recently.

This morning, I woke to a still lake bay, reflecting the shoreline and blue, nearly cloudless, sky. I sat on the deck (granted the dew had yet to dry and my bottom got a bit damp) with my granola and coffee and watched a little fish swim among the boulders in the clear water below. After so much running around for the last couple weeks, it seemed like the perfect moment to be still, to gather my thoughts, to maybe put them down on the page later.

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