“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.