Thursday, June 19, 2014

That place: Why does it still call to you?

Remember last Thursday’s post? Hiraeth: You’ve probably experienced it.

This William Zinsser quote fits well with it:

Hiraeth is sort of like homesickness, but the English language has no word to precisely describe it.

Hiraeth has to do with a strong attachment to a home-like place and a hankering to return to it. The University of Wales says hiraeth can include “a mix of longing, yearning, nostalgia, wistfulness.…”

It pertains to a place (literal or figurative) that mysteriously shaped you and now defines you and still anchors you and lives in you.

A place (literal or figurative) that nurtured your soul and spirit.

A place that still calls you by name and woos you.

Pay special attention to the way you describe that place in your memoir.


Because the better the description, the better your readers will experience—will get to know—the power of your place and enter into your experience with you.

Like Zinsser says, your special place lives on in your mind because it holds, it embraces, an idea—or an experience, or a person—larger than the place itself.

Find that—whatever it is.

Tap into the power of your place by practicing what Priscilla Long calls a “deliberate, ongoing gathering of words and phrases.” She calls that The Lexicon Practice (from her excellent book, The Writer’s Portable Mentor).

Collect words that will let your readers smell, feel, hear, see, and even taste those very special places in your memoir’s stories.

Click here to read my blog post, The power of your place, and see what unique words describe my place. I hope that will inspire you in writing about your place.

In that same blog post, you’ll learn more about Priscilla’s Lexicon Practice. Take her advice—it will be loads of fun.

Also read my blog post, Where are you from? The exercise there will help you describe your special place and era—and it is so fun, it can be addicting!

Follow these tips and your readers will thank you for giving them an enjoyable, vivid reading experience.

1 comment:

  1. Linda,Beautifully said. I think this is why my Kentucky novels, my home and heart place, are probably my best work. I know this concept enriched and enriches your own writing, too. You are a kindred spirit!