Have you ever gone back to a house you used to live in? It’s a strange experience. The furniture’s all different. Maybe the walls have been painted. The pictures on the walls aren’t the same. Maybe some renovations have been done to significantly change the insides. No matter what, the house just doesn’t look right.
It doesn’t look right because you’re comparing the house now to the house then, when you lived in it.
Pictured above is a house I lived in when I was between the ages of about four to eight. When I was writing my upcoming novel Box of Shocks, it was this house I re-imagined for the setting. Of course, the beauty of creative writing is that you have free license to twist, reshape, chop, glue on, and generally refabricate reality. It's like cosmetic surgery for your memory.
But even if I wanted to accurately represent this old house in my novel, I couldn’t– my memories of this house are like a patchwork quilt with a bunch of missing panels. I have vivid memories of parts of the house and events that took place. But I’m quite willing to admit, there are huge gaps in my memory for many details. To fill the gaps, that’s where the imagination comes in very handy.
It’s been said that History is part fiction, and Fiction is part history. In the case of this house and my new novel Box of Shocks, never was this statement more true.