As I’m an American living in Europe, I’m constantly asked how living in Holland affects my writing. To be perfectly honest, I’m always making up some bullshit answer to this question because I have no answer. Why would living in Holland affect my writing? I still sit at a computer every day and agonize over typing out enough words to meet my daily minimum. What difference does where I’m living make?
But today I had an Aha! moment. I’m currently working on an historical romance set in Istanbul. I lived in Istanbul for two years, and I’m incorporating small cultural oddities in the novel to set the stage of the location. For example, the sound of the call to prayer, the lack of personnel on Friday after midday during the most important prayer time of the week. Today, I wrote a scene at a fish restaurant where my heroine is introduced to rakı. And as I described this ritual, I realized this is what everyone is talking about! This is why people wonder about how living in Holland affects my writing. They want to know about the cultural varieties, the strange rituals, the various rites of passage. Aha! I thought (and may have shouted at my computer before quickly opening another word document to type out this blog post).
So, here it is folks, the reason why I find the question about Holland affecting my writing difficult. Holland is home. That’s right. Home. I don’t see any daily rituals or cultural varieties as interesting, intriguing or foreign, because they aren’t to me. To me this is just how people are. We kiss three times when we meet friends. I find it weird when people want to hug me and have to psychologically prepare for it because to me hugging is weird now!
But now that I’ve come to this realization, I may be able to use my knowledge of Europe and its ‘oddities’ as an interesting background for one of my novels. I just need to look at things like an American. Not like me. (Yes, I realize how weird this sounds.) Can you hear the wheels turning? To be continued …