Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday Mentionables: What Does Your Place Say About You?

“I've heard that it's possible to grow up - I've just never met anyone who's actually done it. Without parents to defy, we break the rules we make for ourselves. We throw tantrums when things don't go our way, we whisper secrets with our best friends in the dark, we look for comfort where we can find it, and we hope - against all logic, against all experience. Like children, we never give up hope..."
(Meredith Grey)

Well, it's Monday of a 3-day weekend here in downstate New York, since the local schools observe Rosh Hashanah. I had never gotten Jewish holidays off from school before I moved here. Nor had I gotten 2-hour delays (in the event that weather is bad in the morning but improves so that the roads can be cleared) or, to be honest, snow days to speak of. I grew up in an area of NY where winter comes...and comes...and comes. If they closed school because of a few inches (or feet) of snow, we'd be going to school in July. So snowplows go out at 3 in the morning to make sure the roads are clear for the schoolbuses a few hours later. Actually, I have a very clear memory as a child of hearing the plows out on the roads before dawn, on a regular basis from December to March.

Here? They don't really clear the roads - not until the snow stops, anyway. And schools tend to close if there's even a hint of bad weather in the forecast. All depends on perspective, I guess. And I'm not really sure where I'm even going with thisblog post except that I find it interesting how we can be so shaped by the places where we grow up. When I was revising my novel One Night in Napa, my editor said to me, as I was cutting out parts of one chapter, "Please don't touch the paragraph on page....."

These are those lines she wanted me to keep:

"...Did children who lived in the shadows of a mountain range spend their earliest days looking up, dreaming, watching the clouds make shapes? If you moved those same children to a seaside home, would they lose that distant vision? Would they start looking out rather than up, or develop a rhythmic gait that matched the waves they slept and woke to? Did growing up inside a city of skyscrapers create tunnel vision from the day you were born? Or did living your earliest years inside gated walls mean that you looked at the world in fragments, in sliced-up pieces, so that you could never see the whole of something for what it truly was?"

I do truly believe in that influence of place on a person, and it's something for writers to consider as well. Where do your characters hail from? What does that say about them?

I'll be spending Rosh Hashanah not at school, thinking about it and working on my next project. Happy writing!

1 comment:

Mom said...

Love that paragraph, Ali. I grew up in a home surrounded by woods, but with an outstanding view of the NYC skyline. To this day I I need light, and a vista from my home, and I spend as much time as possible outdoors with nature.