HOW THE “WHERE” FITS INTO THE STORY

Geography and social studies gripped my imagination; they were among the first subjects I enjoyed in elementary school.  That terminology and I share an American provenance; I could have said “primary school”, had I been brought up elsewhere.  I write differently in Texas than I did in California, not because I have switched technologies.  The backdrop exerts quite a different sort of effect – call it a gravitational influence – on more than just the weather.

Out West, I liked to write about chilly places, snow sheathing foliage and terrain, as well as fog banks, rain, folks mumbling about dark doings, that type of thing; it appealed to me while I lived near the ocean, under warm blue skies.  Here in the vastness of the Central Plains, I write about urban events, cities with tall buildings, overstuffed with millions of people.  When I’m on the East Coast, places of warmth and jaw-dropping, open spaces seem so far away – so then, of course, I write about them more.  Writing about places I’d like to visit has a different appeal from writing about where I’ve already been; I’m drawn to wherever I’m not – that’s the explorer, the sailor, the archaeologist, the astronaut, even the diplomat (I hope) hitting the keys for me, putting my “horizon fever” to good use…

Today it seems like traveling anywhere can only bring us into contact with the same restaurants, the same sporting and cultural events, and other features of modern life, “flattened” by our ubiquitous technology, five hundred channels of the same information, broadcasting, cable-casting, satellite-casting, pod-casting at us everywhere.  Then, too, a well-told joke can make people laugh on both sides of an ocean – because what resonates with people hasn’t “flattened” us at all; quite the reverse.

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