Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Where to Write? Peace and Quiet - or Not

Peace and Quiet, or Not
This month's theme is on where we live, the good and bad points, and the writing community.  We live in the middle of a forest in northeast Texas.  That is, when we don't live in Mexico.  But first, Texas.
Our home is about twelve miles from a small town of 3,400.  We are surrounded by pine, oak and hickory trees and we overlook a small lake on our property.  All is peaceful and quiet. Except, four years ago, the Keystone Pipeline declared they had the right to run a pipeline across our property. Thus began our fight over eminent domain. A year later, they clear cut a path one hundred fifty feet wide and a third of a mile long across our property. Hundred foot-tall pines were toppled. Fifty year old oak trees went down along with large hickories.   For months we could hear the heavy machinery, even if we could not see it without a walk through our  woods.
That has passed, but it provided the genesis for Over My Dead Body.  In this mystery, Syd Cranzler also objected to his property being taken by eminent domain. He also lost.
The small town we live near is Winnsboro. It does have a small critique group and a number of active writers. Not far away, though, is a larger and much more active writers' group, The Northeast Texas Writers' Organization, or NETWO. It holds critique sessions, gives workshops and a great writers' conference each year, and sponsors both fiction and non-fiction writing contests.
We love our home in the woods. We have a lovely place we share with many deer and other wild animals, some more favored than others. It is very private. As our driveway is nearly a mile long, if we hear a car, we know they are coming to visit us.
At the same time, we are remote. And there are times when it would be nice to be "in the middle of things."
That's where Mexico comes in. We spend four to six months each year in Puerto Vallarta. Our place there is right in the middle of town, and there are always people, music, and activity close by.  Our condo is in a building with people who have lived and traveled all over the world. Conversation at a party here might center around any number of different countries.  A five minute walk can put us at a dozen world-class restaurants. No Dairy Queen here, though.  Rather than a small lake, our condo is ocean front. 

There is a writing club here, the Puerto Vallarta Writers' Group. They meet weekly and have  had an annual writer's conference for several years. While many of the writers are from the
U.S., there are also some from many other countries.

View from my writing space in Mexico

My next novel, due in the spring of 2016 and titled The Silver Medallion, is set half in Texas and half in Mexico.  You can guess where much of the research was done.
We love the activity, the different views people from other countries have, and the weather.  But, on the minus side, there is always stuff going on and finding writing time is more difficult.
Perhaps it is the great differences that make us love both places.  Contrast. Ah, and contrast is an important thing to remember for any writer.
James R. Callan


Karen Corum said...

Seems like you have the best of both worlds in many ways. I live in a town that is decidedly devoid of a writing community and it's made it hard to connect with other writers. I have those in the social media world and that helps, but I'd give a lot for a local meet up with writers in person. That being said, we aren't planning to stay here so hopefully we'll get to the other side of the country soon and find our place in the "middle of things."

Sunny Frazier said...

I've actually visited Jim in Puerto Vallarta, a memorable experience. Not only is the condo beautiful and the city exciting, but the writers group there is phenomenal.

James R. Callan (Posse member) said...

Karen, I hope you find a good group of writers. I think it's important to associate with other writers. It doesn't need to be a lot, but some who share the love of words, of stories well told. And while social media is great, face to face visiting with other writers is more rewarding - usually. Good luck.

And thanks, Sunny, for the kind words. You are the type of writer Karen need to meet.

Liane Spicer said...

James, I love the idea of sharing your time between two such different yet equally fascinating places.

The pipeline story, though... These things make me so angry. I guess writing them into our stories is good therapy.