Notes from my Knapsack 1-2-14
Stories near and far
Many thanks, at the start of this bright new yea,r to all the kindly and helpful input on my recent attempt to tell a story on the installment plan.
Given the 550 word limit on these columns, and the fact that there often had to be a little exposition to reframe the situation for those who didn't see every piece (election season broke up my usual every-other-week sequence), there was a surprisingly small amount of dialogue and character development you could put into any one segment.
But my ten section adventure began with a couple of items to hand: I'd had a surprising clash in July with a reader in print, and found myself entirely uninterested in fighting a war of words, whether with an unarmed opponent or a platoon of contumelious correspondents. And I'd been wanting to try something fictive, and episodic, for some time. At the end of July, the time seemed to be right.
Further, I had this image stuck in my mind of a man standing at a window looking at the stark jagged mountains around Las Vegas, thinking to himself "I want to go to Granville." He didn't know why, but he had to come here. A year and a half ago, I had my first flight into and out of Sin City, which probably sparked the concept, but it was just a picture with a scrap of plot device that had me thinking "so what next?"
Capping it all off, I had been wanting to try to show Granville to us, to we who live here, through the eyes of someone knowing nothing at all about the place. Most of us who are today's Granville's residents were not born here, though many of us say we got here as soon as we could. But few of us came here cold: we had jobs or spouse's jobs that brought us within the orbit of this little cosmos, some reason for coming into the neighborhood that gave us a context. We'd most of us had a bit of a picture or a piece of the story before driving north on Rt. 37 or across on Rt. 161. Those who hadn't and stayed got our moment of "gee whiz" and then it steadily sinks into the mire of everyday life and casual interactions.
As much as we can take it for granted, Brigadoon… I mean, Granville is a startling place to stumble upon, and we forget that. Most of us do, anyhow. It has a certain feel, an atmosphere which is evocative even for folks who can't put a single word to the whys or the wherefores.
Having been a "step-on" guide for hundreds of tour buses, and watched the looks on the faces of thousands of Canadians and Pennsylvanians and Utahns (et cetera), I can assure you there is a marvelous character to this place that we may be at risk of losing sight of, we who live here. I hope Nelson's story helped you recall that first time you saw the village we call home, and restored for some of us that excitement of living in a place that really does anchor the Land of Legend.
Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor in Licking County; he & his wife stumbled into Granville for the candlelight walking tour in 1989, but it took them 15 more years to move here. Tell him your view of the village at email@example.com or follow @Knapsack on Twitter.