We’ve all heard the advice. Write the book of your heart. Write what you know. Research is your friend.
But what’s a girl to do when her ‘life’ is boring and predictable. I grew up on a small farm south of Nampa. I attended school and graduated with a class of 63 others. All of us intent on one thing, getting out of the small town we lived in as soon as possible and finding somewhere to live where things happen. And so I did. First I moved to Boise and attended college. (Go Big Blue!)
When I graduated, I worked for the state agency who gives away money in the form of food stamps and welfare benefits. I had a child, lost one, and gave up on a marriage after almost twenty years of dysfunction.
Then, my new husband and I moved 1600 miles away from the place I’d called home for forty years. Less than a year after the move, I got the diagnosis of breast cancer from a routine mammogram. I spent a year fighting the disease and the complications from treatment.
I’d been writing for about six years. Taking workshops in fiction. Trying to find the subject that was entertaining, yet close to my experiences.
Still, I felt ordinary. I was Betty to Archie’s Veronica.
I started writing a book about a woman I wanted to be. Then I wrote a second book, focusing on a heroine dreaming of owning an organic farm who falls in love with the man whose corporate seed company is trying to buy the farm out from under her. (That manuscript is out under consideration.) And then I started a story about a tilapia farm at a hot springs spa – melding two real locations – one on the way up to Atlanta (a small mining community) and Riggins, known for their first weekend in May rodeo.
I’d found what was special about my life. The funny thing, it was there all along. It’s the sights, and customs, and smells of growing up on a small farm. The stories from attending school where Wranglers and boots were appropriate wear and F-150’s were the majority of trucks in the parking lot.
Idaho is a special place. I know this fact now because I live next to the Mississippi river outside St. Louis. I let my stories tell the world about the special wonder that is Idaho. And sometimes my characters fight the fights I wanted to win and wound up losing.
So, what makes your stories special? What flavor do you add? And tell me an Idaho story, please. I’m a little homesick.
Growing up in the middle of cowboy country, Lynn Cahoon was destined to fall in love with a tall, cool glass of water. Now, she enjoys writing about small town America, the cowboys who ride the range, and the women who love them. Contact her at her website – www.lynncahoon.wordpress.com