Sunday, October 25, 2009


Everyone knows the old adage, "write what you know". My characters are nomads. Most of them haven't lived in a place longer than five years, and most view homes are transitory places of abode. One is just the same as the next. Their attachments are to people not houses. Nea takes that to the next level by not residing anywhere.

I'm not quite that bad but I did grow up on the move. Military families are like that. One never knows when marching orders will come in or where they are sending you. Apart from family and prized possessions, it's a new life every few years.

I'm not only third generation Canadian but my great-grandparents weren't exactly stationary back in Scotland either. My paternal great-grandmother moved every few years as well. The only two siblings who were born in the same village as each other were the twins. Given that great great Grandpa Campbell married a MacDonald may account for some of that moving. But for the most part, I think I just came from people with a low boredom threshold. Both maternal and paternal grandparents changed residences several times in their lifetimes.

As much as I love this area of Niagara, as much as I consider it home and always have (most of my paternal family settled in and around here) we're not exactly well known in the community. We can't trace our lineage back to the founding of the town.

My Dad's cousin's family settled here a little more solidly than our branch. They owned and operated a butcher shop on the main street that it seems like half the town worked for at one point or another in their life. They were support beams, not pillars, for the church. The minister went so far as to call my Aunt Marg a saint the other day at her funeral. Their roots were firmly settled into the ground here. When someone expressed surprise the other day that I was related to them, that they were my people, I felt this clutch in my belly. I was able to see my context in the web of this small town. It was both unfamiliar and welcome.

In that moment, I truly understood what is missing from Nea's life. What few tenuous connections she does have to people and places have all been torn from her. I'm not writing what I know but rather what I thought I knew. What a relief. Who wants to live like a rejected demon?

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