I started The Soul of Place by Linda Lappin while I walked my dogs. With my kindle set to “text-to-speech” and earphones fixed snug in my ears, the dogs and I set out for our morning stroll. In less than a quarter mile, I was running home for my notebook. Poor Paka & Fable are well-accustomed to a relaxing morning stroll around the neighborhood. Instead, I was pulling them home at a trot, praying that I’d make it to a pen in time to jot down the images occurring to me as I listened to the first writing exercise in The Soul of Place. Alas, I lost a few gems but the those I retained included a few lines that just might be the most beautiful passage I have ever written. (You’ll see that passage in October when my launch my serial zombie horror story for Halloween!)
What is the soul of place?
The book’s full title is, The soul of place: A Creative Writing Workbook: Ideas and Exercises for Conjuring the Genius Loci. In her introduction, Linda explains that the ancient classical world believed that a sentient spirt inhabited every place. People had to collaborate with his entity if they wanted success in farming, fishing, or simply inhabiting a place. This spirit was called the genius loci or the soul of place. When we say a writer personifies the landscape or that s/he makes a city a “character” in a work of fiction, that writer is evoking the soul of place in their writing.
Making friends with the genius loci
First The Soul of Place helps you consciously explore what gives a place it’s sense of spirit Then it helps you creatively express it in different ways on the page. It doesn’t matter if you are writing a novel, a travel essay, memoir or just keeping a travel journal. These exercises bring your attention to the elements in your environment you usually only experience on an sub-conscious level. When you begin to interact with your surroundings in a mindful way, you end up writing about them more richly. The Soul of Place helps you do for the places you write about what Brandon Stanton did for the Humans of New York. It helps you make them more human.
So what exactly is in this book?
The Soul of Place is a workbook. Each of the five sections explores a different dimension of what gives a location it’s soul. Each section gives examples of how writers evoked that aspect and suggests several exercises to help you experiment with it using a place that’s meaningful to you. For some exercises you should actually be in the environment you are writing about. For others, it’s enough to think back and remember places you have been.
What wander~writers will love
- This book gives you a conscious way to explore the power of place and trains you to evoke it in your own writing.
- Through experimenting with the exercises, a simple stroll through your neighborhood can become a creative meditation.
- You just might end up like me and write one of the best passages of prose you’ve ever written!
- Using the exercises from the workbook while traveling will help you get more out of your travel experiences and enrich your memories of them.
Read ~ Write ~ Wander
~AngieAdd a comment