It's Just a Structure
n my novel, Profile, JuleighAnn Harper lives in a house on a lake in a western suburb of Denver. That house and setting are meaningful in that I myself lived in a very similar place when I started writing Profile. In fact, when I wrote any scene involving that setting, I envisioned my own situation – the location of the rooms, the deck, the view, the wildlife.
Alas, my situation did not last. My wife and I divorced (no, she wasn’t Evelyn), and I moved out. Since then, my attitude about it closely resembles Arden’s. In the as yet unpublished follow-up to Profile, Arden and JuleighAnn, though not the main characters, do make a few appearances. In one of those scenes, Arden comments on his situation:
Well, yeah, it’s nice. But it’s just a structure. Yes, it’s a lovely house in a beautiful location, but that’s not what makes it home.
I had expressed a similar viewpoint to my wife before we moved into that house. We lived in a simple brick ranch home in a quiet neighborhood. She loved the house, and while I thought it was a fine house too, she couldn’t understand how I could be so blasé about it. It was a nice place, but it was just a structure.
My attitude didn’t change when we moved into the lake house. It was an even nicer house, in a nicer location, with a killer view! But still, it was just a structure. Do I miss it? Absolutely. I miss the house, the location, the view, the wildlife. But it had never really become home to me.
When I write about it now, both in the follow-up novel Private Messages, and in my as yet unnamed work in progress, it seems to me more like home with Arden and JuleighAnn in it than it ever did for me. Which I admit is sad in a way, but at the same time, it feels good seeing that place now as a real home to characters I love.