I don’t feel like I’ve ever “belonged” in this era. I like the 1920s and 1930s. I like the 1940s too, but it is the other two decades that have always captured my imagination. I like the flappers, the cars, the traveling trunks, and art deco, and no cell phones or tablets or iPods, just guys in fedoras and Harold Lloyd on the silver screen. Back then, Hollywood was new and stars were fantastical, and gentleman tipped their hats. There were no Miley Cyrus’ to spoil the view.
I’m smart enough to know that I’ve idealized eras I never lived in and really know nothing about, but still, there is something there, something that I can’t find in the here and now. Maybe it’s class or charm. Or nothing much, except my active imagination and hope for some type of thing that doesn’t exist and never did exist.
I read today that the Majestic Hotel in Hot Springs, AR is on fire and will most likely be destroyed. It’s been closed awhile now, abandoned and falling to decay. Not that I’ve cared too much about this hotel in particular, but when I heard this news, I thought about my novel, Rosabelle, believe, that I set in Hot Springs. I put my characters there because that old city has so much history and so much charm. My characters felt the way I did, about old things and those eras, so I put them were they belonged. I used a different hotel as the setting for my story though, but it still made me think, what if it that hotel were on fire? Would some little part of my story be gone too? Of course not. My story is fiction and with fiction things can live forever, which is probably why I write in the first place. Little moments, like the one I’m having right now, that little something I can never have but can always dream about, well, that can live forever. That’s the beauty of writing. I can live in the 1920s and listen to music on a Victrola. Or spin around town in a shiny 1930s model Duesenberg.
So, the next time you come across a writer getting all sappy and forlorn over something that seems trivial, and you’re thinking, “Good gravy, another self-absorbed, pretentious writer rambling on about something,” just stop for one moment and think of something you love and can never have (maybe even someone), or remember that record store you shopped at as a teenager, or even your mother’s perfume, and remember that is where inspiration comes from, and that is why we write. Then you should smile, knowing writers will never let anything fade. It might not be the exact place, person, or thing in your mind, but that sentiment lives forever somewhere, on some page.