For as much time as I’ve spent noveling in other places and trying to keep pace with NaNoWriMo in California, I’ve actually only ever won NaNoWriMo in Kenmore (my Washington state hometown) and twice in Bellingham (the college town I lived in, 100 miles north of my hometown.)
Needless to say, I’m heading home for Thanksgiving and have every intention of finishing this monolithic project where everything feels most familiar. Of course, this comes with its own challenges and risks. Last year, I was so excited to be home, I forgot to write for five days. Whoops.
I think environment really shapes the way I write. Obviously I can write anywhere I have a pen and paper (or anywhere I tote my laptop too…) but I feel like my surroundings have an almost noticeable impact on how—or perhaps even what—I am writing. It’s an interesting challenge to write away from “home” even though I’ve been living in Palo Alto for several months (a near-infinite to a 21-year-old like me.) While Palo Alto has started feeling like home in most respects, my writing has more inertia than I do. My metaphors and stories still feel grounded 800 miles away, up in Washington state where I grew up and became a writer. Maybe I’m just sentimental, but I think there’s something special about the place where you write your first book.
I know I’m not crazy though, because everyone acknowledges this phenomenon on the micro-level. Who doesn’t have a favorite coffee shop, a best table at the library, a certain tiny restaurant or cafe they go to for their writing? There are places that simply inspire us—or in my case, guilt me into writing. I just drove all the way down here and spent three dollars on this silly frothy-coffee…I HAVE to write!
I’m looking forward to going home, not just to be surrounded by pine trees, entrapped by rainy-cold weather, and near to everyone I love, but also so that I can go haunt my favorite little writing spot. Oddly enough, it is not some quiet, quaint coffee shop, but rather the food-court in the mall nearest to my house. Forget coffee. I want a good old-fashioned pulled pork BBQ sandwich and a mango bubble tea. Life for writers who don’t drink caffeine is very interesting.
Still about 5,000 words behind. At least I’m not losing ground. I wonder if anyone else is in the same boat. Behind, but struggling not to fall too far behind? Are you writing at home, or somewhere else? Has a new home ever felt like it could be your writing’s home too? I can’t be the only one here 😄