Friday, May 6, 2011
The power of place in writing
When I wrote my memoir, I discovered the power of place on writing. I hadn't been on the farm I grew up on in years. Standing in the barnyard, soaking in the familiar sights and smells, caused a rush of memory as powerful as a tidal wave.
Each day after that when I sat down to write about my childhood, I had only to put myself back in that place mentally to see the land, smell the animals, hear the voices, feel the emotions. The result was fertile ground for the stories I would write.
Triggering memories happens differently for different people. Smells - like fresh baked bread. Music - Satisfaction and Brown Sugar - or a singer - Patsy Cline or Frank Sinatra. Photos - my grandmother holding a rooster by the leg. A particular type of flower. A raised voice. Or a very quiet one. Any of these might bring back a person or an event.
One memory leads to another. Once you start remembering, it's hard to stop. And you may be surprised where the memories take you.
I'm thinking about the power of place today because I'm headed to Italy this weekend for a month of writing and touring. I can't imagine the impact looking up each morning to see the sunrise over Tuscan hills will have on my writing but I'm excited to find out.
I'll be blogging about this adventure, so when I know, you'll know. Ciao!
Italian flag photo courtesy of FreeFoto.com