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With a Mind Like a Manatee

September 7, 2012

Here is a question: When writing, do your experiences from abroad influence your work more, or is it your local experiences that shine through?

For example, after living in Harrisburg for two years, and working in the area for a great many more, I chose to place the Ignatius St. Eligius series there. Often we hear from teachers and experienced writers: Write what you know. It is good advice. I think that having lived in the Harrisburg area I have a feel for the landscape, the environmental settings. People are tricky, I am not going to claim any advanced knowledge of them.

That being said, I have traveled around a fair amount. I visited different cities, multiple times some of them, different countries (rare and long ago), seen and experienced lots of different places. Yet these places do not necessarily jump to mind when I consider a new story and its location. Why is this?

I think one reason might be that I am more familiar with my local surroundings, and that comfort allows me to concentrate on Characters more than worrying about describing the terrain or buildings or knowing the place’s own history/back story.

What about you? Do you find that your experiences from abroad or local affect/influence your writing more?

Sound off in the comment section, I’d like to see what you think.

Thanks for reading,


From → Writing

One Comment
  1. My first thought to your question were familiarity too (or, lack of). This is the reason I have chosen not to ‘set’ my WIP in any particular place. I don’t want to worry too much about getting the environs right (or worse, wrong!) – I think too much research takes away from a good story. Having said that, I would love to base a story overseas and even though I’ve travelled to many places around the world I would feel most comfortable writing about London as I actually lived there for 5 years and know my way around.

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