I write in light. I should say, profuse light.
Sunlight dances through the windows of my home office, my favorite room, furnished shabby chic-ish for me, and “dog-ish” for my cattle dog, Baby Rae (“dog-ish” being a bed of colorful patchwork quilts). A large stained glass window, in blues, green and silver, is enhanced by the abundant light; it depicts a Classical Greek woman holding a crystal orb, and the title “Sphera Imagination” is inscribed over her blond head—perfect for my writer’s lair. Baby Rae is at my feet—and this glowing window, together with Baby Rae and quilts, and the computer=bliss.
So, sitting here in my almost completely blissed-out state, I’m thinking about the influence of surroundings, how they can take us places, blissful or otherwise. In many cases a sense of place is so powerful that it’s what brings a novel to life in a reader’s mind, too. “Place” can often be a story’s soul, literally shaping its characters’ choices. What would Gone With The Wind be without Tara? Or—
The Help without Jackson, MS?
Harry Potter-anything without Hogwarts?
War And Peace without Moscow?
The DaVinci Code without the Louvre?
The Pillars Of The Earth without Kingsbridge?
The Grapes Of Wrath without Oklahoma?
The Kite Runner without Afghanistan?
Reading Lolita In Tehran without, um—Tehran?
Wuthering Heights without the moors?
Rebecca without Manderley?
How does a writer fabricate a completely developed sense of place? For my novel, The Angry Woman Suite, I dug into history books, the better to depict historical Chadds Ford and West Chester, PA, real places. And then I imagined an almost Gothic mausoleum of a house– Grayson House–and after that I made up a whole town for The Angry Woman Suite, with East Chester, observing the town in my head first, before even making notes. It was after the entire novel was laid out, almost like a pattern on fabric, and carefully smoothed free of wrinkles, that I could see the extra material—the excess of the spaces that my characters inhabited—and the cutting began.
Here, though, no cutting required. My little office space is a glowing cocoon filled with almost all my favorite things, right down to the wet nose nuzzling my bare feet. Baby Rae and I are in an exceptional place; my perfect place for imagining. . . . And yours? Where is your exceptional place?