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Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Writing What's Real - IWSG March 2020

It's IWSG Day. The goal of this blog hop is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. IWSG is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh, our brilliant ninja leader. Co-hosts for the March  IWSG are Jacqui Murray, Lisa Buie-Collard, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, and Shannon Lawrence! To read other contributors, click here. 

March Optional Question: Other than the obvious holiday traditions, have you ever included any personal or family traditions/customs in your stories?

I can’t recall including personal customs or traditions in my stories, but I've used snippets (or more) from real life. They say write what you know. In my theory, mining real experiences makes writing feel more legitimate to readers.  

To that end, I’ve written fiction using details from real life such as:      

  •  An 1800’s estate formerly located in my home town an eccentric millionaire filled with amusements, including bear pits, an under grown grotto, saloons, restaurants and a "pleasure lake." Long gone to ruin, the entire area is now populated with large homes. All that’s left is the lake and occasional pieces of statuary my friends used to encounter when playing in the woods when we were young. Confession time. The Beneficiary, the novel I’m currently querying, includes a fictional representation this estate, which I wrote without ever seeing it. Yes, it was in my home town, but unless you knew property owners in the area, it was inaccessible. I closed that loop this past summer when my sister-in-law, who lives with my brother in the house where we grew up, took me on a hike down a relatively new nature trail they’ve created that leads to the lake.
  •  A memorial to the victims of a shipwreck off the coast of our town, a Celtic cross sitting high on a mound in the middle of our local cemetery. The boat left Galway in the fall of 1849 making it just shy of Boston before hitting ledge during a storm. Of the ninety-nine passengers (+/- but that’s another story), twelve made it to shore, forty-five were buried in a mass grave in our cemetery and the rest were unaccounted for. A quiet mystery remains. The memorial is not located at the burial site and no-one seems to know where the real grave site is. In the same cemetery, which is run by a private group, there is an unmarked plot of land that I suspect is the grave, but those who may know, aren’t saying. The questions surrounding this wreck triggered me to write my book, This Side of Here.
  •  My grandmother’s backyard, most likely tilled by an avid gardener before she bought it. It featured a grape arbor and rectangular gardens edged in red brick. Her property abutted an empty lot that climbed to the road across from a Catholic church and school. A character from This Side of Here disappeared from a similar yard. Aha. Wait. I've just remembered a tradition. Early Easter mornings, we drove to my grandmother’s house before late mass. She always purchased two stuffed bunnies for my little sister and me and used them as a centerpiece on the breakfast table. After a feast of double-boiler scrambled eggs, bacon, grapefruit and honey buns followed by play time with those stuffed bunnies, it was off to church. If the weather allowed, we’d cut across her backyard to get there. Not a tradition I’ve written about before, but now, thanks to IWSG, I have. Whoops. Now that I think about it, I did write about this custom, including a recipe for her delicious eggs, here.
What traditions have you included in your writing?