“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.” George R.R. Martin, American novelist and screenwriter
It is 95 degrees this afternoon. Everything I didn’t want to do today is done, as are a few of the things I actually did want to do. So, I rest on the couch and get lost in a magazine, Victoria to be specific.
There is an article about a woman called the Antiques Diva, who may or may not live in Venice. The photos are mesmerizing and I lose track of such facts, drifting somewhere far, far away. I am no longer on my couch, in Appalachia, in the heat. I am in Venice. I am Venice.
Born there, sighing with pleasure when a kind nonna combs lemon juice through my hair, ensuring blonde will streak my caramel-colored mane. Growing up hearing the dull knock of a gondola docking against my home. Knowing the exact play of light against pink and golden walls.
Or did I simply read such a thing?
Such is the lot of a reader — or writer. We have so many parallel lives, transported — for a few hours if nothing more — to Italy or Ireland or the Arctic or Kansas. Ah, books. They squeeze so very much into our one brief time on this earth.
That leads to a writing tip that, for once, I learned the easy way: Write where you know. Anything less will come off generic as an interstate rest stop — especially if you are writing at book length.
When I was writing my first manuscript, Dune Girl, in 2015 that is why I set it in the Indiana Dunes, the place I spent much of my childhood. Writing where I know made the process so much easier. Describing the way the sun sets behind Chicago, casting skyscrapers into a smoky gray outline? No problem. I’ve seen it time and time again. I could instead focus my imagination on plot, characters and dialogue.
So, if you’re working on a book or a just a letter someone may want to save for a long, long time, make things easier for yourself and your reader. Write where you know.
I’m thinking, however, we should probably all keep on reading here and there and everywhere. Even Venice. Maybe especially Venice. Life is too short to do anything less!