Thursday, May 8, 2014

 I’m a California girl. No one would guess as much from my Midwestern pale skin and a body that hasn’t seen a swimsuit or short-shorts since the Carter administration. No, Eisenhower. Or the fact that I’ve never eaten at an In ‘n’ Out. But I was born in California. I lived there all of eight days. That’s right. I lived in my birthplace no longer than a traditional vacation.

My birth certificate says California, though. Somewhere buried deep inside me is a surfer girl.

When my dad left to serve in the Korean War two days after my footprints were inked onto the birth certificate, my mom and I made plans—granted, she did most of the planning—to fly to Wisconsin to live with her parents, my grandparents, until his return. 

Maybe this pull the ocean has over me is because I didn’t get to dip my toes in the Pacific before we left California and a residual longing has lingered like a migrating bird’s instinct. Maybe it’s from a lifetime of harsh winters in the northwoods. Maybe it’s something indefinable, as it is for Becca Morrow in All My Belongings, a symbolism of a deeper heart longing that has nothing to do with the sea.
Gulf of Mexico

Every family vacation or business trip that plants me close to “big water” makes me feel as if I’m coming home. I’ve seen the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Okeechobee, and the Pacific Ocean near Seattle, Alaska, Monterey, and San Diego. I’m still watching for the opportunity to truly return “home” to Oceanside someday. What’s the point? To reconnect with a moment in time. In All My Belongings, Becca is moved by her employer Isaac’s attempt at the poetic when he says, “These waves sound like the womb of my beginnings.” <insert picture of big waves here>

I’ve ordered notecards with watercolor impressions of the unique Oceanside Pier for thankyou notes. It’s almost like being there. 

The vicarious fulfillment of decades-long longings is part of the writer’s joy. I can’t live near Oceanside right now, but my character can. I can’t see palm trees outside my windows, but she can dance in their bizarre shadows. I can’t stand on damp sand and feel a flirt of seafoam tickle my ankles, but she does.

In the course of writing radio drama for 33 years, I had the privilege of living vicariously through thousands of characters’ situations. I refurbished an aging Victorian mansion…on paper. And managed a flower shop, a bakery, a quaint café, a travel agency…on paper. Through my characters, I’ve run marathons and designed clothing and lived in a New York loft apartment and mothered hundreds of children.

I’ve traveled far beyond the confines of my 12 foot by 12 foot office, to places I can’t now afford—in time or money—but that intrigue me. I’ve walked through experiences that thrilled my imagination and others that made me grateful it was only imagination.

The depth of identification with my characters means I hold my breath when they do. I cringe at their diagnoses. I weep with relief when the answers arrive on the page. Many novelists would report the same. We “miss” our characters and their adventures or misadventures when the book is sent to the publisher after the final galleys or a new book releases and attention is diverted from the previous story with which we’ve lived for years, at times.

Becca in All My Belongings was only one of the characters who offered me a vicarious look at a lifestyle and challenges unlike my own, yet like my own. I felt Aurelia’s confusion and her soul’s begging for someone to understand who she remained on the inside when her body failed her. I ached with Isaac’s loss. My stomach churned with what Geneva knew but kept tucked away. I felt the warmth from the lamppost-like outdoor heaters when Becca and Isaac dined at the outdoor restaurant in LaJolla. And I chilled when she faced the accusations against her.

Have I returned to Oceanside since my birth? Yes. Vicariously. Through my characters. Having seen it through Becca’s eyes, I’m sure it will seem beautifully familiar—even the scent of the sea in the air and the shadows of the palms—when I visit in person. Someday soon?


Cynthia Ruchti tells stories of Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark through her novels and novellas,
nonfiction projects and speaking events. All My Belongings is her eighth release (including three non-fiction books). Ruchti has also written articles for numerous magazines and industry publications and currently serves as Professional Relations Liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers. Ruchti lives in Wisconsin where she spends her days diving into words, worship and wonder.

Learn more about Cynthia Ruchti and her books at Readers can also become a fan on Facebook (cynthiaruchtireaderpage) or follow her on Twitter (@cynthiaruchti). 

Don't forget to come by tomorrow, when you can enter to win a free copy of All My Belongings!

1 comment :

  1. Thanks for this opportunity to share these thoughts. I appreciate it.


Newsletter Subscribe



Blog Archive

Powered by Blogger.

Historical Romantic Suspense

Historical Romance



Popular Posts

Guest Registry