The Power of Water

A tree - Matthew Keeley - photo

A couple of months ago, I was featured on Linda Hall’s blog as part of a series entitled – Water Blogs. Linda invited authors to describe how bodies of water had influenced their writing. I’m pleased to share my answers with all of you, today.

What are my stories about?

Lives are shaped by the places in which they are lived. My novels are set in a rural landscape and they focus on the vagaries of human relationships. I write fiction to explore the many ways people deal with loss and the challenges of remaking their lives, to delve into the inevitable complications that come about when someone takes the risk of moving forward and to emphasize that rebuilding a life occurs in starts and stops.

My body of water …

I live perched above the shores of a beautiful lake. The body of water in my novels has the fictitious name of Crater Lake. I chose a lakeside setting because as a beginning novelist, I felt it would be useful to have a vivid sense of where my characters lived. After twenty plus years beside my lake, I know it well.

The Lake 2 - Bruce Witzel photo

Does water or bodies of water have any personal significance for you?

Living near water has always been a given in my life. I grew up within a stone’s throw of a mighty river. The fishing fleet chugged up and down and a small ferry made its way across the deceivingly sluggish, brown water. I spent significant holiday time on the shores of a pristine lake. As an adult, I raised my children in a seaside town with the waves of the Pacific Ocean rolling in just beyond the backyard; high and low tides, storms, wharfs, boats, seaplanes and freshly caught fish were everyday occurrences, sights and pleasures. Now, my home is on a cliff above a lake. Always, bodies of water have pervaded my days and nights. I agree with Henry David Thoreau who wrote, “The lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and impressive feature. It is the earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his [or her] own nature.”

If asked to give a Ted Talk, what would mine be about?

The Evolution of a Novel Writer. I have always been a person who wrote – journals, letters and academic articles. My mother wrote as well, but she was a writer of stories. It was as if we had staked out different claims in the world of writing – my mother to create from the heart in the realms of the imaginary and I to write from the head in the real world. Over time, I came to understand the close relationship between our two worlds. The type of nonfiction writing I did was rife with heart and it was obvious my mother’s stories required more than a fair dose of headwork. Even so, I didn’t feel the call to write fiction until my mother had been dead for several years. During my long walks on paths near our home, always within sight of the lake, the small seed of a story began to take root. The leaves on its tender stalk were characters, clustered together and taking shape. Deeply curious, I wanted to know more about them. I started to jot down answers to my questions and from those random musings came my first novel. Everything in my past and present life has become a well to draw upon. I write fiction informed by a lived reality – it is head and heart and soul and I think my mother would be proud.

View of the Cabin - Guenette photo