by Mary Margret Daughtridge
by Mary Margret Daughtridge
I knew a fellow one time. A writer, he was. He was from South Carolina and his name was—I swear—Beauregard. Seriously. If I put it in a book, critics would slam me for stereotyping...
Anyway, Beau, whether or not he ever actually wrote, talked a lot about writing. Back in those days, writing was my guilty secret, so I did write, but never talked about it. People who could talk about it, impressed me greatly.
If you asked Beau where he was from, he would say Columbia or Greenville—I don’t remember. “But,” he would add in the thickest South Carolina accent you ever heard, “I consider Monks’ Corner my spiritual home.” Ah considda Muunks’ Cawnah mah spurchal home. There, he said, flowed a never-ending fountain of inspiration, of ideas and words, paragraphs and plots, and when he was finally ready to write his novel, there he would go.
I didn’t have a spiritual home, that I knew of, and I wasn’t perfectly clear on how a spiritual home differed from any other kind. I was raised in a small eastern North Carolina town where we took the Bible seriously and the only spiritual home I’d ever considered was my home in Heaven where I would go to live with Jesus one day. He wasn’t talking about that.
Beau died not long after that conversation, still a very young man. He never wrote his novel.
But the notion that writers can, or could, or should, have a spiritual home in addition to a more mundane one stayed with me. When I brought my writing out of the closet (literally) the notion of spiritual home came back to me and, I realized, in the interim I had acquired one—exactly like the kind Beau meant.
My spiritual home is Topsail Island, a twenty mile long, half-mile wide barrier island on North Carolina’s coast. One barrier island is pretty much like another. There’s really nothing special about Topsail except that it’s never been commercialized like some of the other beaches. There’s no hotel, no night life. There’s nothing much at all except miles and miles of beach cottages, sand dunes and beach. I can go there and write like nowhere else on earth.
The ever-present breeze provides lift for my imagination’s wings, and the surf pounds a cadence for my words. I wake up before dawn, make a pot of coffee, and with my laptop on my knees, I write while the colors of day appear. Every time I raise my eyes from the screen, the view outside the sliders has changed.
I set SEALed With A Kiss on Topsail. Davy and JJ in SEALed with a Ring had a beach cottage there. And in an homage to Beau, who never got to write his novel, I created the tiny crossroads of Sessoms' Corner, "the someplace," the place where the roots are. I liked it so much, I sent the heroine there to live. The hero was there too. (Surprise, surprise.) And once again, there turned out to be a theme of finding the place to set one's roots. Finding the spiritual home.
How about you? Do you have a spiritual home?