Tuesday, June 4, 2013

HOUSES


So many of my stories began with a house. I see a house in real life or in my mind, and the house won't let go. What happened here? Who lived here, loved here, left here?
Sometimes the house remains visible in the final draft, and sometimes it is only perceptible to me. But the house was the genesis and the anchor to the tale. A sacred or cursed space, left with only residues waiting to be set free.

It is the storytellers’ duty, as I see it, to flesh it out and make the house’s story be known.
If this sounds too lofty, and no doubt it is when the result is a humorous three-hundred-word toddler book, than so it is. It’s a quirk of mine that I take this storytelling thing seriously. The reader shouldn't, but this writer must.

And so it is with my published novel for middle grades, The Voice of Thunder. A house stands at the core of what is happening, a silent testimony to how we got here.

The house is less obvious in my picture storybook, There’s a Turkey at the Door. You’ll have to trust me, the house is there. It is about home, feeling at home, and going home. The telling made the illustrator focus on the characters and not the house, bless her. It's what was needed. But my writerly mind was guided by the house.

And so it is at the heart of the novel for middle grades I am working on now. But here I will give no details. Like the wonderful and much-lauded writer Avi, I’m of the school that the more you talk about your work-in-progress, the less you need to write it. You’ll have to believe that the house is there.

For some the setting is a valley, a meadow, a beach. For many it is the belly of a bustling city. For the introvert that I am, everything starts inside. Inside the house, that is.






14 comments:

  1. Love this post Mirka! So very beautiful! And so very fascinating. I love hearing about other writer's processes. I also love when you say "The reader shouldn't, but this writer must". Yes, we writers must take our storytelling seriously so our readers can enjoy the stories we create.

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  2. "I’m of the school that the more your talk about your work-in-progress, the less you need to write it."
    I agree with you on this. There is a time for oral storytelling, and a time to tuck the story itself under the paper covers with just a prayer and no public review.

    I'm eager to read your books!

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  3. Avi! I love that you mentioned him. :)

    Hmm, I don't think any of my stories began with a house.

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  4. I'm the same, Mirka. Books, movies too, appeal to me if there's a house, a home, a family. And I never get tired of looking at that wonderful photo that's in The Voice of Thunder!

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  5. I think that houses have a deep universal symbolism which appeals to all of us, certainly important to me. My mail box is empty :L glad I caught your post. It made me smile.

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  6. Yes, stories for me often revolve around home and family, and sometimes the house is the important thing

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  7. You remind me of Leah Goldberg's children's story: Apartment for rent" which tells about the various neighbors in an apartment building:
    היפים השכנים בעינך

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  8. I think we all have some common thread that runs through our stories. For me, it is often a tree. I start with a tree, and the story reveals itself around it.

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  9. I love houses in stories! Especially old ones w/magical properties, or some hidden mystery going on. I actually love old houses in general. Wouldn't want to live in one, but I love to tour them.

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  10. Oh, my goodness, there are houses in ALL my stories.

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  11. Home is where the heart is! Another thought-provoking post. You keep us in suspense...can't wait to find out some day.

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  12. This is exactly why I love old houses--they all have stories to tell!

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