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I have to say, I felt a little bit vindicated when reading author Lauren Groff‘s latest interview with Poets & Writers magazine (her short story collection, Florida, was released earlier this year) in which she asserts: “Florida is the biggest joke of all the states. It is the punchline to every other state’s joke.”

Oh?

That statement, itself, feels like a joke to this Cleveland, Ohio native. A quick recap for the Buckeye State-uninitiated: OH is flyover country; Cleveland is the “Mistake on the Lake”; the home team Cleveland Browns’ last season went 0 and 16. (Yep, it’s a rebuilding year–again.)

The big F-L? A “bad joke?” Even if one doesn’t dream of Disney or gets heat-hives, the Sunshine State has a lot on offer. For a girl growing up in the Snowbelt of the Rust Belt? Florida sounded like heaven.

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But into each heaven, some rain must fall. (Yep, bastardizing Longfellow now.) Stay with me.

Place is important. I’ve covered this before here and here. Writing about place is important. Writing about a conflicted place? Both sunshine and darkness?

Now, that’s interesting. Yep, Goff’s Florida is on my TBR. (Want to learn more before you buy? Bookish Beck has a short review of the story collection.)

But the push and pull of FL on the writer is not all the truth Groff has to offer in this insightful interview. Advice for the rest of us?

On collections: “I believe short story collections have to be an argument,” Groff says.

On being a writing mother and the “sexist enterprise” that is American parenting: “I had my husband sign a ten-year contract…It was about how we live…I’m a writer. I’m going to continue to be a writer. I will never be a full-time mother…”

On being a writer: “…if you’re the writer you have to take it [the above agreement] more seriously. It means you’re taking yourself seriously as an artist.”

So here I am, back at my desk, musing about place and writing and parenthood and balance and summer. When, you might ask, did this writing mother have time to read a magazine interview? On vacation, where these beautiful photos were taken in…

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OH.

Are you conflicted about your native place or the place you call home? How does place inform your reading and writing?

 

*Thanks, Dad and Ryan, for the pics!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 thoughts on “OH

  1. I suppose it depends “where” in Florida you’re talking about. I grew up and lived most of my life in Panama City, FL, on the beautiful coast of the panhandle. A few years ago my wife and I moved to the Upstate region of South Carolina, in the shadows of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. I set my mystery series along the coast of the FL panhandle. It’s what I know best. Thanks for an interesting post. 🙂
    –Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Place has absolutely informed my writing. Writing properly forbthe first time I always planned to use where I live and the history and landscape around me. It also creates and drives the characters on, defines their reasoning.

    Plus I thought it was about time my home became the setting….😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, the U.S. Midwest is called “flyover country,” but that’s a really big chunk of the country to ignore. I know from experience–and your great blog–that your part of Ireland is lovely! For me, off the beaten path, as far as tourism is concerned, is okay (unless, of course, your livelihood depends on tourism!). Meeting real people going about their real lives can lead to connections that are meaningful. So glad we’ve connected here. Thanks for stopping in!

      Like

  3. just popped by to say hi and thanks for the follow. I’m one of those people who come from somewhere deemed ‘popular’ ie must visit places, aka London though many’s the fly over disturbing my peace as planes stack inexorably waiting a slot to get into Heathrow. But place is who you make it, like home, it’s wherever you want it to be at whatever time you want to make it. I can sell London as the greatest or the gratest (as in most likely to grate) place on the planet, or by whatever criterion I decide. But it’s also utterly rubbish when, as now, it’s hot enough to boil a monkey’s bum. So go rust-belt! We love ya! And did i say thanks for visiting and the follow?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Here, here. Place is what you make of it. For sure. London is definitely a place I’d love to visit–great or grating, worth a try! Funny, I’ve had a couple visitors to my blog who live in the North of England say that their places remind them of the U.S. rust belt. There are rusty places everywhere–even in London, I would guess. We endured terrible heat earlier this summer, but as I’m in Maryland now, we’re pretty used to it. Summer is very swamp-like. Keep cool, and thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

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