The Adventure of Writing a Book, Part 45

The Adventure of Writing a Book, Part 45

HOUSES: Use your imagination!

During this Covid Crisis, my husband and I have been going for drives every afternoon. It’s been great! We take our dog Roxie and we get out of the house and into the fresh air and explore the area around us.

We live in Brunswick County, North Carolina, so there are beaches and golf courses, historical old homes and plantations, parks and tree farms. There are cornfields and cows, luxurious vacation homes and trailer parks. Single-wides, double-wides and abandoned old shacks.

The sheer variety of homes in this area is staggering. And, even within each community, there are great variations. A tiny single-wide might have junk cars littering its perimeter. Next door, the same size house may have beautiful plantings, with birdhouses and blooming flowers. A large two-story might be austere with perfectly round-cut shrubs, the home across the street will be a crazy riot of color and texture with winding walkways and fountains.

What about abandoned houses? Why are they abandoned? What happened? Did the resident grow older, unable to care for the house? Were there no living relatives to help and intercede? Did the county take it over for non-payment of taxes? Why wasn’t it listed and sold?

There’s a story in every house and I’m especially intrigued by these abandoned ones. There it sits, a rusty old trailer, half-covered with vines, grass knee high, broken swing set in the back yard.

What happened?

Another home is buried in the woods. This one is large, two stories with the chimneys showing above the encroaching trees and bushes. It was a big home, obviously the owner had money or he (she, they) wouldn’t have built this house.

What’s the story?

How about a big field, overgrown with weeds? A line of old oaks marks a defunct road that leads to a grove of large old trees with the remains of fireplaces and chimneys in the middle.

Another story.

When I see these sights, my imagination is stirred. Was it a simple aging process and neglect that led to the abandoned home? What about murder? Abuse? A malignant divorce? A romantic triangle that led to chaos? Children who were abused and neglected and later abused and neglected their aging parents?

Did someone go bankrupt? Or suffer a financial reverse? Are those people now homeless or living in shelters? Or with their grown children? Or in a senior community?

Wait! I see an open window, a cracked doorway!
Is a homeless person living in the abandoned house?

What’s their story?

The journalist in me is always inquisitive, wanting to ask questions, to discover the story behind a house whether it’s occupied or not. I want to go to the hall of records and trace the history of that home. I want to interview the people who lived there.

There’s always something to write about, always something to explore.

My advice? Never feel tired or burnt-out. Go for a ride through different areas in your county. Explore unknown paths. Walk past an old, neglected hulk of a house. There’s a story there.
Drive through a trailer park. See the variety of homes. There are many stories around us.

Find them. Use them. Write that book!

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