Place ~ A to Z Blogging Challenge

Panorama

Sense of place, I think, is a number of characteristics that makes a place special — the human experience in a landscape, the local knowledge and folklore.

Uniqueness offers a sense of place. Identity and character recognized by a visitor and valued by residents. Writers think about this subject often. Wendell Berry said,  “If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are.”

People suffer through bad times — hurricanes, fires — and return to rebuild, as they feel they belong to the place as much as the place belongs to them. Wallace Stegner said, “The knowledge of place that comes from working in it, making a living from it, suffering from its catastrophes, loving its mornings or evenings.

This is what writers, poets, songwriters specialize in — the painting of a scenery, the attachment to emotion through a sense of place.   Hundreds of years later, people go back, searching for their great-grandparents home for a sense of connection to the place to which they also belong. Searching for a feeling, a story.

It was extremely important to paint a sense of place for Zoe Sinclair when I wrote Pine Vale into Stranger or Friend. She feels lost and hurt in many ways, having just returned to a complicated place, yet Pine Vale is home with all the good and bad home offers. 

Sure, we can be citizens of the world, but home, in many shifting forms, remains deeply anchored. Our new way of life no longer offers a deep sense of place, does it? We spend so much time online, in offices, moving around, perhaps slowly foregoing a connection to a  unique place.

Is the sense of place becoming a lost sense?

— Image: candorlandforsale.blogspot.com

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20 responses to “Place ~ A to Z Blogging Challenge

  1. Place can be a character in a book, too. Pine Vale is a character!

  2. Silvia – you exhibit such a vast understanding of so many ways our ‘who we are’ is formed. This isn’t only a terrific way to introduce your novel, it’s 26 valuable lessons in how to live a conscious life. I’m enjoying this immensely.

    A sense of place is one that strikes deeply with me, as it probably does with most introverts who live in our thoughts. Not only has that sense, or lack thereof, guided my many moves, but it has given me as great measure of connection and oeace when human relationships can often be confusing and discomforting.

    • Sammy, thank you. Fiction is so much about incorporating life experiences and views and the deeper we dig into a character, the better she presents herself to us. I read somewhere that some big-name authors spend months dissecting a character, making charts on personality, looks, emotional connection to the world, sometimes they introduce the character via a short story before incorporating her into a novel. Amazing how this opens the internal eye. Many thanks for your kind words. I am enjoying the Challenge, but this time around I’m barely hanging in there. So happy to see you visiting.

      • I remember reading an interview years ago with author Irving Stone’s wife. She said he went so far inside his protagonist during his research for his biographical novels that she felt like she was living with each famous person he wrote about. That always stuck with me!

        I’m sorry you’re overloaded, and kudos for the great job you are doing. I can’t even keep up with reading and commenting this year. I would have never made it through this year’s challenge.

        I ordered your novel today from Amazon 🌷. Look forward to its arrival.

      • Thank you! I look forward to hearing your thoughts on it, Sammy. Means a lot to know the book is going to be in your hands. :)

  3. I so totally agree with you regarding “place.” I lived in my grandparents house up here in Kirkland. After moving to California I NEEDED to come home to Kirkland… it is my place. But now after half of my life in Kirkland I’m comfortable here in Poulsbo. It feels like Kirkland, in the ‘old’ days. The ‘feel’ of a place is critical to me. Maybe this is why I’m addicted to Historic Romances set in England, Scotland, and Wales. I soooo can sense the walks through the fields and along the cliffs.

    You have made an excellent point and a beautiful post. Thank you.

  4. When I think of authors and place, I always think of Hemingway and those places he wrote about–the places he loved . . . I loved reading about Pine Vale and its eccentricities. Happy Saturday. Enjoy your Sunday off! Denise

  5. I don’t think so. While many places do get a bit homogenized, there are still things unique to many places. So, sense of place remains.

  6. I think place plays a really important part in stories because it helps to ground the characters. You can learn a lot about the characters by the way that they interact with their surroundings. :-)

  7. My theme for this years #Challenge are the settings for my new novel, Facing East. Often the favorite part of fiction for me…Conroy and his Charleston, Donna Leon’s Venice in her mystery series, Doug Marlette’s Mississippi in Magic Time, the English village in any number of stories. Researching settings are fascinating. Thanks for this post, another one in your April offerings that I appreciate!

  8. Hi Silvia .. I hope not – but could well be for many … I have happy memories of my parent’s home and our life, then it follows on .. there’s something there .. but some I’d go back to and live in again ..

    I can quite see Zoe needing to know where she is now, and can settle and be, just be .. cheers Hilary

  9. Hi Silvia.

    It’s amazing how much you can remember from years past. I have great memories of my grandmother’s house from the smells of the baking bread to the fun of taking a bath in a big wooden tub. Still so vivid after almost 50 years.

    Leaving our house in Northridge after 10 years wasn’t as hard as I thought. Our girls were growing up there, but after the ’94 earthquake it was a bit easier to move back East.

    Looking forward to your books.
    Joan

  10. I don’t think that sense of place is going away at all. I think O. Henry nailed this in his short story A Cosmopolite in a Bar where the supposed “citizen of the world” is quickly pulled back to a sense of place when someone speaks ill of his original home. I love to travel and experience new places, but home will always have a special place in my heart – the good and the bad, as you point out. You do a good job of bringing this out in Zoe’s experience.

  11. Pingback: Maps and A Sense of Place | bemuzin

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