Saturday, September 26, 2009

This place gives me the...choose one: creeps, satisfaction, apprehension, secrets, expectations...

Although you had not thought to do so in today's weekly writing workshop, you spoke with more conviction than you thought you had about the need of a place to have a resident personality.  It began when one person, her story set in Los Angeles, wondered aloud about ways to infuse a sense of how people behaved in Los Angeles.  If, you observed, Beckett were still alive and writing, he'd set stories in Los Angeles, which led this writer to imagine what it would be like directing Waiting for Godot in the specific locale of Los Angeles as opposed to, say, Boston or Indianapolis.  Persons in differing cities want different things.  Having a lovely relationship of duality with Los Angeles, it was easy to observe that even though it has many amenities not found anywhere else, the thing that makes it what it is has to do with the fact that nearly everyone who is a resident of Los Angeles knows that the most bent commodity of all is reality.  Angelenos know they are there for the bent reality, not for the motion picture and television industries, not for the politics or weather but for the kinship of altered expectation and reality.

Residents of Santa Barbara are here for a different reason, the atmosphere of secrecy so inherent.  There are stunning views and weather.  But these are not the draw, although we will tell you that they are, hopeful of diverting you from the fact that we exist on a sense of having arrived here with a secret agenda, with a history of having done something or having come from an unusual family or perhaps the sense that such places as New York and Boston and Los Angeles and yes, even Seattle make for splendid visitation but somehow we could not survive in such places on an extended basis.

True enough, there are individuals who live in places such as Albuquerque or Portland or Santa Fe, or Dallas who do not wish to be there; they wish to be nearly anywhere else.  They fantasize about Toronto or Vancouver, trying to make do with what they have but not sure how.

There is a hidden sense of defining characteristic inherent in individuals who live where they do in some uneasy awareness that goes beyond the mere trope of anywhere but here, settling in on the notion that they are here as a way of taking their medicine or, to make it more chemical, taking their meds.

What is the unspoken connection between a real person or a character and the place where they go about the warp and weft of their routine, watching story unfold about them and coping with their own sense of story.

There should be a dotted line or dash or two-line space break here, a walkway into the questions you have been asking about your protagonist, the one who has taken up residence in a managed community, one you sense as being undershot with two seemingly antithetical qualities, affluence and secrets.  The secrets of Casa Jocasta, you want to write, are spread through the prime acreage of the facility like the blue, marbled mold in a wheel of aged Stilton cheese.

Some individuals have voluntarily moved to such places, individuals of differing demographic than those in your fictional place.  Some have nevertheless gone voluntarily while others still have been more or less left off for storage there.  

And, regardless of age, social status, and background, they have secrets.

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