on ode to Lowcountry writing

Anyone lucky enough to live in the Lowcountry of South Carolina — or perhaps dumb enough to suffer through the summers here — knows how water affects every facet of life. We fill the muggiest days of the year here with trips to the beach, sunset cruises with family and friends, morning strolls along the Battery, Sunday brunches at Fleet Landing, or special dinners on Shem Creek. And if you really feel like getting dirty — literally — a fishing trip or a wade through pluff mud is an absolute must.

It’s a hard life, I know.

Numerous artists hail from the coastal areas, including such writers as Mary Alice Monroe, Pat Conroy, and even the late Robert Jordan (though his epic Wheel of Time series is definitely not set in South Carolina, Toto!). I’m sure they would all attest to the fact that, just as the ocean and myriad of inlets, tidal pools, harbors, and curling creeks affect all aspects of life here, so too should setting course through a story.

Integral, yet unseen.

Literary experts know how to tweak a setting with the finesse of a seasoned angler luring a prize sailfish to his line. Those of us still learning to navigate the rough waters of proper craft likely find ourselves glued to an electronic tool instead of depending on the gut feeling that comes with countless trips to favorite fishing holes when we’re fifty miles offshore. Surely I’m not the only writer to spend hard-earned cash for a guide through the mysterious and ever-changing maze in search of the literary equivalent to redfish and flounder hiding inshore?

Our bridges span not only water, but bike paths, roadways, homes. Water crisscrosses the low-lying areas and forces us to take roads we wouldn’t normally choose. The most humid mornings will shroud the tall diamonds of our bridge with clouds so thick that the morning commute feels like a trip into another dimension.

Without the water surrounding us, lifting us up and sustaining our way of life, the beauty and originality of this wonderful home would disappear. Take a deep breath. Look around. Don’t forget what makes our Lowcountry so special.

And like the water that we so cherish here on the South Carolina coast, it’s the little things — the seemingly unimportant settings — in our personal story, that make it memorable, remarkable. Lovable.

A work of art.

(Note:  The slimy beastie above was not injured in the taking of the picture above. Much. — Zihuatanejo, Mexico 10/2002)

(Written in response to Redroom.com blog challenge, this week on “fire, air, earth, or water.” My post is here.)

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