Over on the Livejournal community WriteRightOn, we the members indulge in writing exercises every week. My favorite are the in character questions, designed to get a writer in to their character's special voice.
This week's question:
1. Tell us about where you grew up -- was it a city, town, farm, village? Who did you live with? Did you like the place, or did you want to run away as soon as possible?
2. What about where you live now? Same house, or somewhere new? Did you stay local, or move away from the area? Are you still in contact with anyone from your childhood or youth?
The writing I did is rough stuff and has only an uneven polish, but I think it's a valuable exercise and boy, these sure are fun, so here's my answer for the MC of Sacrificial Magic:
People look at the news these days and see nothing but a ribbon of green floating above a black crush of people, the hands rising from the crowd all the more shockingly pale because the rest of the body tends to be shrouded.
That is what people think of my homeland now.
But when I was a boy in Tehran, none of that had yet come. Not until the day that we, I only eight years old, had to flee to keep my father from the firing squad.
Americans are unwilling to believe that there was a time, when I was as young as five, that I could pass by a group of women reading, their legs bared to the sun, on my way to purchase ice cream from my favorite street vendor. (He always ruffled my hair and told me I was growing up to be as beautiful as a saffron flower. Sometimes he would pretend he did not know how to count, and undercharge me for those disks of golden dough, the rose scented ice cream hidden inside like a secret)
I...do not wish to talk anymore of my boyhood city. I loved it, even though just outside its walls those less fortunate starved and shivered with no food or power. It was not perfect, but it was mine. The revolution changed that. I can never go back.
Now? Well, I suppose now that my wife and I are divorced I can speak plainly. I never would have chosen Seattle myself. Too bloody cold. Britain was bad enough and as much as I had no love for the deserts I helped fight wars in, at least they were warm! I have to confess, though, that maybe I've come to love this strange, grey-green jewel of a city.
My life has taught me that there is no city on this earth that will protect a person from tragedy, and there is no structure that stands for all time. From here, at least, I can push the living room curtain aside and see the neighbors, my love Malkai and his children among them, playing in the street. I've always thought of American idiom as lacking a certain color, but in this case perhaps they are on to something with "home is where the heart is."
Home is, after all, something you carry with you, that you unfurl like a fine carpet or carry like a banner, wherever you decide to rest.
So. Seattle is not the Tehran I still dream of, but this is where I choose to plant my banner for now.
I think it will do just fine.