Home is where the heart is.

“I’m going home, back to the place where I belong
Where your love has always been enough for me
I’m not running from, no, I think you got me all wrong
I don’t regret this life I chose for me
But these places and these faces are getting old
So I’m going home…”
~Chris Daughtry, “Home”

So, um, I think I might have lost my mind. That’s really the only explanation I can come up with for the fact that I’m currently considering – very seriously – starting another new novel while concurrently querying agents for With a Little Bit of Luck and working on the writing project that I already spend time on every day. Crazy, right? Except not. Because once an idea works its way into my head, an idea that I keep coming back to, keep thinking about, keep envisioning, it’s very hard for me to just let it go. Nearly impossible, in fact. Is it the most convenient thing? No, especially not when my mind always seems to brainstorm when I’m not near my writing journal (cue: mad dash for the notepad or at the very least my cell phone, where I can type out the thoughts for the time being). But is it also a wonderful, inspiring thing? Sure is.

Right now I’m spending some time planning out the overall concepts and messages of the book. I never like to get too specific at the beginning – I firmly believe in letting the characters and their choices lead the way – but that overarching theme is definitely a key component. I already know how my main character and her journey will fit in, and while I’m weaving the secondary ones into the framework, I’m also thinking about things like character development and setting. That got me wondering. Just how much a role do our homes – not just the houses, but the places we live – play in our perspectives? How strongly do they color our views and our experiences? And, subsequently, our work? How do they help define us? Do we automatically belong in the place where we’re born? Or do we have to find that place, create that home? For me, I think it’s a bit of both. I’ve lived in Pennsylvania my entire life, this same town since I was two years old. And I love it here. It’s hard for me to imagine living anywhere else. At the same time, I believe that it’s the people who make a home (and yes, that may or may not be a concept I have a little too much fun exploring in my writing). It’s the family – sometimes the one we’re born into, sometimes the one we choose – that ultimately helps to build that connection. And then there’s the environment – how we relate to it, how it relates to us.

But what about beyond that? Can the cities or towns we live in become an important part of who we are? I absolutely believe they can. I think that’s part of why I’m taking my time in deciding on the setting for this new novel. With WALBOL, I knew immediately, but this one will involve two settings that contrast with one another, and I want to be certain of that push and pull. I already have some ideas of how it’ll affect my main character, but I don’t want to pinpoint the places until I’m sure. Because home is where the heart is. It does matter. We have soft spots for the places that hold special memories, thoughts and feelings attached to different locations that we’ll probably never be able to separate from them. And maybe that’s a good thing.

I’m curious – do you like the town or city you live in? Do you consider it home? And if you had the chance to live anywhere in the world, where would you pick and why?

For me, I’m going to keep exploring the life I chose for me – and the ones I’m choosing for my characters, because I’ve already found that sometimes it’s through others that we end up learning the most about ourselves. Hmm … maybe I haven’t lost my mind after all.


10 thoughts on “Home is where the heart is.

  1. I’ve lived in PA since i was 10, so i consider it my hometown. I’m not super attached to Pennsylvania itself, but i love it because my family and friends are here. They are what make it home for me.

    But if i had the chance to live anywhere, it would be Nashville. When i went to visit, i felt like i actually fit in there, moreso than i’ve ever fit in anywhere else. I have so much in common with the people down there (country music and just a general idea of being nice to people that most southerners adopt). Who knows? Maybe i’ll wind up there someday! :]

    I’m so excited for you and your new project. You’re definitely not crazy in pursuing multiple projects at once; you’re ambitious and a good multitasker! Good luck with the outlining!

    • I definitely know what you mean. I do have my reasons for loving Pennsylvania itself, but I also know that without the family and friends I have here, it wouldn’t be remotely the same. It’s the people who make a place home – and maybe even prove that home doesn’t have to be a place itself, but instead your place with others.

      You know, I don’t hink there’s any ‘maybe’ about it. Just from the way you talk about Nashville, it’s obvious what an impact it made on you. It seems like a perfect fit for your love of songwriting, music, writing, and everything related, and I really believe that there’s no comparison for that feeling of contentment you get from being in a place that inspires you. Just promise I get free tickets to your first performance when you’re singing your music? ;-)

      You make me feel better about tackling multiple projects at once. My first thought was honestly “are you crazy to even THINK of doing this again?” I’m too intrigued by the new idea to let it go, though, so I’m gonna do my best to find a way to start multi-tasking. It’s working out well so far in the outlining/researching phase, so hopefully it will continue!

  2. You know that I love my hometown — DC is an exciting, fun, vibrant, beautiful place to live.

    But living in London was also the most incredible experience and made me realize that there’s more than one ‘perfect’ city out there. And then, living in Seoul, I realized that anywhere can become home as long as there are people there who you love and experiences that make that place special.

    • I love DC and can certainly see why it would be such a wonderful place to live! There’s an energy there that you can’t really describe, a kind of vibrancy all its own. It’s been a couple years since I last visited, but I’m definitely hoping to make it back soon.

      It’s so, so great that you’ve had an opportunity to visit so many different countries. I can only imagine what an amazing experience that must be. London seems just beautiful – and so rich in culture – and Seoul must have been fascinating. I enjoyed traveling along via all the pics you posted. But yes, I completely agree with you. I suppose on some level the places are important, but mostly in the context of the people who are there and the things you experience … kind of the whole idea of home being what you make of it, not what it makes of you. It’s definitely where the heart is!

  3. I’ve only lived in Michigan, so it’s tough to answer this. Michigan is home. Northern Michigan is where I go to retreat, relax, unwind- it’s a very simple way of life. The west side is where I went to school, so holds some really great memories along with some pretty awful ones. The east side of the state is home. It’s Detroit, where social justice is happening every day. It’s my parents house, my community, my friends.

    I feel like I belong in Nashville, though. I love it so much, feel very at home in that city. I really hope to land there one day.

    • You know what? I am completely, entirely, utterly certain that you WILL land in Nashville one day. You are easily one of the most driven people I’ve ever known, and I have faith that if anyone can make that dream happen, it’s you.

      It’s so interesting how different parts of Michigan have such vivid and unique memories associated with them for you. It makes you really think about the idea of what makes somewhere home – how it doesn’t have to be all in the same place, just all a part of you. It must be really nice to have different parts of the state that are representative of such varying aspects of your life … kind of like the idea that no matter where you are, you still have a tie that binds you there and memories that serve as an anchor. And, you know, I bet you’ve left YOUR mark on some of those places, as well!

  4. I LOVE THIS BLOG!!!!!
    first, i love that your mind is always working and creating. it makes you you and how adorable is that? very, i say! and it makes me itch all the more to read WALBOL.

    as far as where home is, i agree that it’s where you make it, not where you reside. although i’m a californian by heart, born there and spent a good chunk of my childhood, i’ve also lived nomadically, losing count somewhere around the 30 mark. honestly, i think i’m all the better for it. the experiences of living different places and experiencing different mindsets has enriched my imagination. it never fails to intrigue me how i’m treated in each new locale: popular in one place, not so much in another. i adored living in california and oregon throughout my childhood and teens; detested living in texas and tennessee as a young adult. even know, i reside for the moment in kansas city, but it’s not my home, and never will be. i don’t relate to it at all and think, “what if i’d been born here? what if i’d lived my entire life here?” it just shakes me. to not go out and experience and grow and love and hate. how do we know? how do we know what we want or aspire if we haven’t seen enough to touch that special corner of our souls? the one constant, and the most important one that we all should have, is the family and friends we keep and carry with us along our journey’s, the connections we’ve picked up along the way, that has little to do with where we reside.

    • Okay, so first of all … I’m going to be a broken record and thank you again for taking the time to leave such an insightful, sweet comment. It’s most appreciated.

      It’s funny that you mention that about always working and creating. I was pondering that last night at 2:00AM when I couldn’t get my mind to turn off long enough to fall asleep ;-) I think I once assumed that the more I wrote, the easier it would be to sort of separate that part of my brain, but I’ve actually found it to be the opposite. I’ve taken to always having a writing journal nearby these days. And (broken record alert again) you are too sweet! Thank you, thank you, thank you for being interested and wanting to read it. Hmm .. maybe I can throw up another few excerpts on here in addition to the ones I already have posted.

      Oh WOW, I had no idea that you’ve lived in so many different areas! It’s so far removed from the experience I’ve had, which just makes it seem all the more fascinating. On the one hand, I’d imagine it must be really difficult to move from place to place, but on the other, it definitely gives you a priceless chance to experience so many different lifestyles, opportunities, and mindsets. I believe that every part of our life influences who we are in some way, and getting to immerse yourself in so many places like that has to be an incredible way to evolve and enrich your experiences. Do you think the fact that you adored California and Oregon so much influenced your perception of the other places you’ve lived? And isn’t it amazing how the same person can be treated so varyingly in different places? It’s not the same situation at all, but even just when I went on my road trip last year, I was amazed at how friendly people were in some cities as compared to others.

      Where in TN were you? I loved Nashville when I visited, but I’ve never been anywhere else in the state. I wish there was some way for you to move back to CA, since it seems like that’s where your heart is. It has be tough to live somewhere that you don’t consider home. On the other hand, it says a lot about you and your identity that you’re able to so definitively know that you don’t relate to Kansas City. And like you’re saying, maybe it’s important to have that part of our lives – to know what we don’t like so we can understand better what we do. Every experience, good or bad, helps us grow in some way. There’s always something to be learned. We won’t know if we don’t live it. I so love the way you put it … it’s hard to know what we truly want if we haven’t seen enough to realize it. There could be something out there waiting for us that we’ve never even imagined. No matter where we are, though, it’s definitely the people we carry with us who make the journey worth taking. Those connections mean everything.

      Geez … longest comment ever? Sorry for rambling on and on like that :-)

      • haha, see? you’ve exercised that muscle so much it now runs itself ;)

        i lived in nashville. lasted 2 whole months there, LOL. in it’s defense, it *was* the middle of winter, in what i would assume was record snowfall since they all seemed shocked by it :/ i collected a lot of stories in those two months. hehe

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