Location, location, location. It’s as critical in writing as it is in real estate. Think about John Steinbeck and Salinas, James Joyce and Dublin, and Henry David Thoreau and Walden Pond. A place can shape and inspire a writer.
You can guess which place inspires me. Then again, this place has inspired a lot of people.
What is it about this 5.87 square mile (15.2 square kilometer) nearly perfect square in the western San Fernando Valley that influences my writing?
I grew up there, and it’s the place where I decided to become a writer. But there is more to Reseda than that. As writers, we can be influenced by a place’s geography, history, climate, culture, socio-economic standing, and even the spacing between houses. All of these can affect the types of stories we write, what characters populate them, and how our stories conclude. They determine the worldview we bring to our themes. A place can influence our writing even if our story is set in the other side of the world or the galaxy.
To understand, we need to take a deep look at a place: how it formed, how it attracted the people who live there, and how they see themselves and the world they live in. By seeing how a place shapes our writing, we can develop a better understanding of how we view the place where we live.
So, let’s look at Reseda together. You’ll find there’s more to it than a line in a Tom Petty song.
In the next installment, I’ll show you how not all parts of the San Fernando Valley are the same and how geography shapes how we look at social class.