Sunday, November 04, 2007

NaNo makes me all thinky

I'm nowhere near my word count quota for NaNoWriMo (should be 1667x4=6668 at this point), but I've probably read well over 50,000 words doing research. Research I should have completed by now. That's what happens when I do no task analysis at all.

That being said, my head is better wrapped around all this stuff and I may even finish. On time. If I'm really, really good and disciplined, especially this week. And I successfully rearranged my schedule later this month to give me a chance to visit a Mississippi cemetery where the central character is buried. If I'm lucky, another character is there, too.

But here's what all this is doing to my head.

When you meet someone and they ask you where you're from, how do you answer?

Me, I say "Memphis." I don't say, "Memphis, Tennessee," or "Shelby County," or "Tennessee," or "the Mid-South." Of course, all those answers would be accurate. But that's not what comes out of my mouth.

I've met people from Texas, however, that tell me they're from Texas. It's a big state, that, so the answer is very different from mine. It's not geographic, at least not specifically. It seems to me that it speaks of a pride in place, of a heritage.

And my claim of Memphis speaks similarly, but differently. Perhaps it's a function of Memphis's place in Tennessee. Located in the southwest corner of the state, I can find myself in Arkansas or Mississippi in less than ten minutes. In all fairness, since I live seven blocks from the Mississippi River, I live closer to Arkansas than I do to most of Memphis.

If you know Tennessee geography, you'll have an idea that one can cross the state, north to south, in under two hours. Crossing the state east to west, however, takes most of a day. On the other hand, I can leave my house at eight and find myself in Missouri, having crossed into Arkansas, in under two hours.

Because of this proximity with other states, but the great distance between Memphis and other parts of my state, I don't really identify myself as a Tennessean.

(The historical research I'm doing has put all this in my head. In the Civil War, Confederate regiments were identified by state, not community. There were county militias, and those fed into the state infantries, etc. So these people I'm reading about and, ideally, writing about, talk a lot about being from Missouri, not being from a specific place in Missouri. Does this make any sense?)

So, dear reader, where are you from?

7 comments:

Belinda said...

Keep writing. at this point why don't you leave the research out and get the body of the work done. you can come back and fill in later. I'm at 6336 right now. I'll keep going another couple of hours today. I'm from Big Sur, California. Belinda Big Sur on Nano

Kristabella said...

I'm from Chicago. I live in the city now, but grew up in the 'burbs. Which pisses off those people who were actually born and raised in Chicago proper. But no one knows where Hanover Park, IL is.

I did the same thing when I lived in the Bay Area in CA. I usually tell people I lived in San Francisco. Even though I never did.

Mom said...

We've moved around so much that I have flippantly replied that I'm from planet earth. My roots are still in Missouri, perhaps because of my father's great pride in his Missouri pioneer family.

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winslow1204 said...

Good thought.. I usually say the city...most people know the area:)

Hot Librarian said...

I seriously struggle with this question... actually, I think I've posted about it recently. I'm from nowhere...

But, in a nod to Kristabella, when I started college I had just graduated high school in the Chicago suburbs... but I said I was from "Chicago" too. Particularly because the town I came from and the college I went to differed in name only by a single letter, and that confused the heck out of people.

Where do I feel like I'm from now? I don't know. But I hope the next place we move will be a place I can call "home."

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