By Leslie Lindsay
Last night I attended my local writer’s group. It’s been awhile–but hey–it’s a new year, an I am recommitting myself to be there every month. Instead of bringing snippets of my novel-in-progress, I brought something entirely new and different: a contest prompt from Writer’s Digest magazine. The prompt goes something like this: “Write that you go back to your childhood home and it has been condemned.”
“Hummm….I can do something with this,” I thought. And so I put pen to paper. Literally. I actually handwrote my thoughts as I drew upon some images of what that must feel like. It took all of twenty minutes to jot down about 300 words about a decriped home. But the constest allows up to 750 words. Do, I write more? Do I just stop because it feels “done?”
Seems my fellow writers had other thoughts:
- “Go in!” one person urged.
- “No! Don’t go in. Stay outside. Don’t go any further than the stairs,” chimed in another
- “Why are you there?” wanted to know yet another member of our group.
- “Wouldn’t you have known the house was in bad shape? How long have you been away?”
- “How old is this person, anyway?”
- “Did something bad happen at the house?”
Wow. The room was abuzz with thoughts, questions, comments, and I was just a bit taken aback. But it seems to me that people have a strong connection with the home in which they were raised. Why? I don’t really know for sure, but I have some ideas:
- Life was good and fun and easy. Mom and dad took care of everything.
- Strong sense of place, smell, and vivid recollections of childhood paper the walls.
- You felt safe and secure there…or did you?
- Perhaps there was some kind of tragedy?
- You developed and came of age in that home…lots of “firsts,” from learning to walk to going off to prom.
And then just what does it mean when a home is found to be condemned? Well, I did a little research and here’s what I found…
- “What Happens When a Home is Found Comdemned?” http://www.wichita.gov/CityOffices/OCI/neighborhood_inspection/house_condemned.htm
- Check out these gruesome images of condemned homes from Google Images http://www.google.com/search?q=condemned+home&hl=en&rlz=1T4ADRA_enUS424US424&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=27UET53LKYfiggfOxsG4Ag&ved=0CDgQsAQ&biw=1058&bih=490
- What’s behind the “magic” of childhood homes? Here’s a story from the New York Times in which adult return home to live out their lives at their childhood home
- And what if you are dreaming of your childhood home? What might that suggest?http://www.experiencefestival.com/meaning_of_dreams_about_childhood_home
- Here are some images and a website devoted to abandoned homes: http://www.100abandonedhouses.com/
- Here, too you may find some interesting info and why and how homes become abandoned: http://www.biggerpockets.com/renewsblog/2007/10/02/where-to-find-information-on-abandoned-homes-and-other-properties-skiptracking-and-other-techniques/
As for my writing, well I better get on with it or it may become condemned as well.