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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Friday, September 19, 2008

While Not in Maine

In the great tradition of university writing of the late 20th century, I now write about what it's like to write about a place without being there. I haven't been in Maine for more than a week now, so I'm served by memory or imagination (or both mixed up) and not the waves and stars and snoopy deer. Needless to say, it's a little more difficult to get inspired at a distance. And the kind of writing that deliberately denies a sense of place and character has to be served by word play and irony. Failblog!
I've always thought you can write about anything anywhere. To do it honestly and well, however, you have to get inside your character, or feel cold clammy sand between your toes, or take apart the car engine yourself. Otherwise, it feels shallow and forced. It's not just about the language or the medium. It's about your connection to something.
Everything these days conspires against connection. I'm blown around like a leaf by the news and the views. Distraction is a way of life, maybe even a deliberate philosophy. A place where we don't get so distracted by words and images of all the other places we could/should be - that's what we need to believe in.
Fortunately, Maine so strongly gives me that feeling that I can write about it while being elsewhere. I imagine that's what the theorists say also, that Marshall MacLuhan is still right about the medium being the religion. True, but maybe for people who don't have any religion to start with.

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