“The places in which any significant event occurred become embedded with some of that emotion, and so to recover the memory of place is to recover the emotion, and sometimes to revisit the place uncovers the emotion.” -Rebecca Solnit The Field Guide to Getting Lost
Rebecca Solnit is my constant fabulous companion, in waiting rooms, late at night when my house is finally quiet, as I work on dropping into my work of writing and mothering and being a person who lives with chronic pain and tries to not be someone who is only chronic pain.
I started A Field Guide to Getting Lost in Big Bend National Park-one of our favorite family get aways. No cell service. All nature. Day long hikes and a lodge with a hot dinner and bed. How I do nature these days. (I did the second world thing-that’s another story-Kazakhstan in the 90s-like I said another story…)
Solnit explores so much in this treasure of a book-but in the past few pain-riddled nights she started to explore place-something I am dreaming of from my bed. She got into vintage Tanya Tucker, got into the power of place in country music, something I’ve been struggling with in a short story that is finished but for place. I dug up the Tanya Tucker songs like “No Man’s Land” (trigger warning-shatteringly good-but if you read this blog-probably always be ready for triggers-triggers are why I write-to survive them-to make sense of them-to make sense of life.)
Ten minute writing sprint: If you can’t find the reading material-music will do, both are ideal.
1. Read pages 113-126 in The Field Guide to Getting Lost, or/and Dorothy Allison’s essay on place in Tin House Craft Essays (the green and black book)
2. Make a list of the songs you love or know that rely on place more than character, songs where place is integral to plot.
Some of my favorites:
Goodbye Town– Lady Antebellum
Blown Away– Carrie Underwood
No Man’s Land– Tanya Tucker
3. Choose one and write what that place says to you/write about a place that speaks to you/write about how you feel when the music mentions place
Congratulations! You’ve just taken a deep dive into place. You may never revisit what you just wrote-but you are training your mind to include it-and you got some words down!
Contact me and send me your favorite place exercises-craft is creation and creation is breathing life into a world desperate for it.