In her post this week Becca writes about the influence of places on what you are writing about and having just come back home from another few days on the road, all in the name of work, and realising how nice it is to be back behind your own desk, in your own bed and looking at the so familiar scene outside your window, this seems a very appropriate subject to be thinking about. But then I’ve though about it so many times and places and countries all can be home for a while and then you move on. Then, all of a sudden, you sense a reluctance within yourself, you’ve actually had enough, you just want to stay put, and call something home for a bit longer; actually, you don’t really want to move ever again. You want to travel, yes, of course, I cannot imagine not travelling. Nevertheless, I always want to come back home. And yet, this has nothing to do with the place home is in, it has much more to do with the familiarity of the immediate environment, your desk, your books, where everything is, the comfortable sofa, the garden and not ever wanting to search for that book or that contraption ever again, because you have put it in a different place in your different home.
Becca’s question is not about home, however, it’s about the place you live in and that is quite a different thing. She asks:
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?
I realise that the present place I live in does not configure in any of my writing, or even my thinking about writing – it’s just a place I live in, it happens to be here in Norfolk and I happen to feel quite comfortable here. It’s the nth place I’ve lived in, and I am quite happy about where it is, but I have no affinity, no direct bond with the immediate environment, even though within the wider context, I feel more of a bond, because it is the way it is, reminds me of some of the places of my childhood in the Netherlands sometimes, a bit of a backwater, but a place that is calmer than the rest of England, where cars don’t move as fast and people all seem to live at a much slower pace. So, all of a sudden I am beginning to write about the place – perhaps I should do this exercise a bit more often!
The places that do figure in my writing are the places I lived in in my childhood and young adulthood in the Netherlands. They are the setting of some of my stories, and so is Iran and to a lesser extent London, where I also lived for a long time. I have tucked away, perhaps for later, the more recent environments, the East Midlands and now Norfolk. Places I have visited, in Germany, play in my writing, but then I have read a lot about these places as well as visited them.
So perhaps this is a different take on Becca’s question, but then, I have not stayed in the same location, or even in just one or two locations. I have lived in different countries and even different continents and through this, lived different cultures and languages. And yes, definitely, places influence who you are at the time and the influence your stories very much. I really need to find more time to write about these places!