Rocks in My Head


Landform on the Navajo Nation, Arizona.

I’ve been pondering the wondrous landscapes of the West—a big reason I live here. It’s telling, I think, how people from the Midwest and East often visit the West and ask, “Where’s all the greenery?” And I go East and kinda wonder the opposite: “Where are all the rocks? Where’s the dirt?” I suspect we’re conditioned to love the land we grow up in.

View of the Sonoran Desert from Gates Pass near Tucson, AZ.

Many years ago I moved to Midwest farm country. I only lasted about three years, or maybe it was one that seemed like three. Kidding. That’s not to diss farm country—I know many people there love it. I also know that some of those folks consider a primo vacation to involve traveling west and hanging out with rocks and dirt and strange poky vegetation. But I don’t pretend to be neutral on the subject.

View of the Santa Rita Mountains, southern Arizona.

My main thoughts in relation to writing fiction revolve around how one designs the landscapes of a fictional world. I wonder if writers do their best work when their stories are set in their own most sacred places, whether the Wild West or the wilds of NY’s 5th Avenue. Might a story hold more resonance for the reader if it’s set in a writer’s beloved home ground?

The Little Colorado River on the Navajo Nation, Arizona.

Does setting a story in an inner landscape that mirrors a well-loved outer one add some kind of magic to a story? Flipside: Do the best writers possess the ability to thoroughly resonate their passion regardless of their fictional setting? If so, how do they do that?

“Catfish Paradise” on the Colorado River, border of Arizona and California.


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