I spent the last several days visiting my childhood house, seeing family members, and stopping by old haunts. I also went through some old books and papers from many years ago, including stories from writing classes that will become part of a very overdue anthology book. Now I am heading back to Tucson, and I have the feeling that I am going home.
I think every writer needs to visit their childhood house (or houses) from time to time. It helps to give a creative soul a sense of their roots and their life journey. My mother still holds down the fort at the house I grew up in, and she recognized me and invited me in. This made visiting much easier. (If the house you grew up in was sold, maybe just drive through the neighborhood without knocking or asking to be let in. Otherwise you might get shot.) It’s important for a writer to remember that a house is not a home. You can’t go home again. And that ‘home’ is where the writing happens.
I feel more and more that Tucson is home for me now. I don’t know how long that feeling will last or if any writing worth sharing will get done there. I figure I will at least complete my anthology while living there, and I have a novel in mind that grows out of my experiences living there, but I think maybe I need to leave a place before I can get a good handle on the story that happened while there. Writers, it seems, must always be leaving home (before it becomes a grave).
Maybe I can redeem myself in this blog post by closing with something a writer might find of value. In my papers I came across an old xerox of a writer’s book originally published in 1962. My writing teacher at Montgomery College gave us all a xerox copy of the out-of-print book to use as our textbook on creative writing. The book is ‘The Young Writer at Work’ by Jessie Rehder. It kind of forms the nucleus of my writing philosophy or serves as a sort of rosetta to my way of approaching writing (or so it seems as I skimmed over the introduction). I found and bought a copy online of a first edition for $0.66 usd (plus shipping), so I plan to revisit that as I write the ‘craft’ part of my anthology. I think old books like this hold the secrets to creative writing that have been lost in pursuit of money and fame. Maybe.