Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now.
Lately I’ve been struggling. In the past week, I have been uprooted from the home I’ve known the past five years. I have returned to my hometown in Alaska, to a city I never dreamed of living in again. To get the news that I would be returning there was slightly less than shocking. Only slightly. I had expected to return to Alaska eventually, but certainly not to the same place I’d grown up.
As a child, Alaska was home. A cool place to say you were from when visiting the Outside (yes, capital O), but overall just home. Tiresome, boring, home. Everything to be discovered has been discovered, as a novel that has been read and reread a hundred times.
Contrast that with my move to the Outside. All was new. New people, places, every experience was fresh and something I sought out, instead of something I was obliged to do with visitors or for a school trip. There were so many things to do in my new home, I would never run out. And, distinctly different from home, in the lower 48, once I ran out in one city, the next city was only a few miles away!
But as years pass, things change. There is less to discover and cynicism can set in, a place can grow old and tiresome, circumstances change. I haven’t reached that point yet in Snohomish, Washington. It does not seem stagnant, but alive and inviting. For my husband, however, things have long since lost the rosy glow. And so we come home.
In all fairness, I shortchange my hometown. I have far from discovered everything, I have far from done everything. There is a lifetime of things to discover in Fairbanks, which I get the rest of my life to do. But I go into this reluctantly, and so do I treat it fairly? These are the things my recent move has been casting into my mind.
But because this is a writing blog, I feel I must bring this back to writing. And this situation I find myself in reminds me of this: I often avoid prolific authors and I quickly tire of an author. There are few reasons for this, but the main one is the simple fact that the author no longer surprises me after a few books. Instead of that feeling of discovery I get when I go to a new town or open a new book, I feel bored and irritable. The plot twists and turns are traffic jams and bothersome delays to my destination. Soon, I have no investment because I don’t want to be there in the first place. Yet other readers I have spoken to love an author for that very same reason. Their plots are familiar, their characters are familiar, etc. It is as if you have reconnected with an old friend and you are catching up, but they are telling the story of their past with a different twist this time and perhaps more lovable characters.
Other readers I know (my husband comes to mind) rarely read a book more than once. They have read it, enjoyed it, and want to discover something new. (Ironically with my husband, he doesn’t mind returning to a place he’s enjoyed living in before–no serious travel bug with him!) Others, like myself, prefer to reread books until they are dogeared and well worn, or reread a favorite book or series every year or so. Once I find a book I like, I want to savor it and come back to it, knowing that there will be more to discover in the future.
So, here I am, uprooted and feeling surprisingly homesick. I leave treasured friends behind me that I, right now, cannot imagine life without. I return to a community of friends that I have allowed to stagnate, being eager to grow the distance between myself and my childhood. It is an odd mix of old and new, of familiar and unfamiliar, of friendships lost and friendships regained, of conversations halted and suddenly picked up again.
I cannot say I am happy here. Not yet. We have returned just before fall, and fall in Fairbanks is a short, tragic death of summer. I have never been a snow bunny, and the famously dark days can wear on a person. But already, I have been shocked and pleased by the people who have reached out to me. I hold onto a small degree of hope that things will be different, and things will be better. Perhaps my childhood hometown will become my child’s hometown, too.