Thanks to my son’s nanowrimo workbook (I’m helping him through it), I’m thinking about setting more. A few of my earlier stories contain settings filled with character, done on purpose. Until recently, I simply didn’t think about trying the opposite: Fill characters with setting. The result improves my fiction AND fun along the way.
Today’s post: If you were a setting, what and where would you be? Comment with your answers, whether by prose, poem, or a short-answer phrase.
As for me, at this point in my life, I feel like…
The walled garden of this busy, concrete city seeks escape; ivy tendrils growing thick in the far left corner, up and over the edge of the red-bricked wall. Around her, sharing her walls and towering three stories above, older apartments crowd, each with a window in. Visitors come from the communal door in front where they help to grow or enjoy the food and decorative plants in her soil. Some merely visit a time beneath the shade of an old willow, branches draping comfort over whomever shares its embrace. A man-made pond nestles into the ground beside it. Koi swam there once and perhaps they will again.
The visitors might find the garden splendid, large enough for all these things plus some ordinary lawn and smoothed, wooden benches. Others find her out-of-place, wondering at how she exists here, behind these apartments, rather than behind a modern structure with rent few can afford. Still others wonder why the tenants bother, finding faults with cracked walls, the overgrown ivy, or the messy installation of an obviously fake pond.
Go out in nature if you want it, that willow will tap into your pipes and break them. The garden will bring rodents and bugs, the pond will cease to fountain and breed mosquitos. Give up. The garden desires escape, the ivy leading the way back. Back to natural roots, heedless of the miles of noisy city pressing against it on all sides. Or, perhaps made all the more desperate by it.
Someone recently hung a small swing in her willow and the entire garden absorbs new laughter, soaking it like sunlight. The families around her struggle, but treasure her as one of their own, each taking care in small ways, building together a powerful and warm embrace. She struggles to provide in return. The garden knows her place, even loves it when these families, her family, graces her mind. Still, she longs to take them all home, her home, back to the woods and fields, surrounded by nature. The ivy leading the way.
Wow…coupled with the title this sounds far more pretentious than I intended. My low self-esteem begs deletion. However, many of the words above are kind words sent my way by friends and family over the years. Together with some very real emotions and desires driving my writing and fantasies…I let it stand. Gonna change the title though, the original title “Living Temples” was actually about bringing life to setting and setting to character focused on a setting inspired by the Kailasa Temple in India.
Now, ease my discomfort at posting this by describing yourself as a setting in comments. I am most curious to read what sort of place my readers, friends, and family think they might be.