When I was a kid (and for many years after), I would’ve said my biggest fear was spiders. As a teenager I’d lock myself in a room if that’s what it took to get away from a spider.
Spiders still cause me breathing trouble.
When I started sending my writing out into the world, I might have said my biggest fear was having certain people read my work and not like it. This sort of thinking gave me panic attacks.
But I’m putting my work out in the world anyway.
My upcoming novel is set in a small Florida town, not unlike (in my mind) the town I grew up in. Almost all my stories are set in Florida. The stories not set in Florida are set in imaginary, odd, nonexistent lands–which are still a lot like Florida.
Now, I haven’t lived, really lived, in Florida since I left for college. I’ve spent a few summers there, and my father lives in the same house he bought before he married my mother. It’s the same house on the same lake in the picture above. I could visit home today and stand in that same spot where my dad and I are standing in the picture. Unless there’s been a lot of rain.
Since I left home, I’ve lived in Indiana, Ohio, Bulgaria, Colorado, and Texas. And nothing is like Florida. When I was born, Disney World wasn’t there. Imagine! We went to places like Weeki Wachee Springs instead.
My home state was another character in my life.
And my greatest fear is that I might end up back there one day. I’m happy to visit my dad and my friends who live there. They love it. It’s home. I can’t blame them.
But I never want to live there again. Sometimes I’m taken by this irrational thought that Florida is going to reach out with a long tentacle and drag me back in, and that this time there will be no escape. Yes, melodramatic, but I am a Floridian after all. Melodrama is in the water down there.
In spite of this, I seem incapable of writing a story set anywhere else. Why is that?
How do you feel about Florida? How do you feel about your home state? And where do you set your stories?