Lately, when I’m not working, cooking, reading, spending time with my family, or folding laundry, I’m busy building a nearly 150-year-old farmhouse. I’m digging the cellar, placing the windows and doors, nailing on the shingles, and sending long fingers of Virginia creeper up the chimney. I’m polishing the oak staircase, papering the walls, and arranging the furniture. I’m also planting gardens and trees and secrets all over the place.
It’s great fun.
I’m building this house in my mind and on paper so that my characters can live in it–so they can move through rooms, stare out windows, and pull covers up over themselves at bedtime. I’m layering each room with the history of its inhabitants. Each floor is being smoothed by generations of feet. Each book in the library is being flipped through by countless fingers. I’m making it a place I would want to spend a lot of time and I hope those who one day read this book will love to spend time there as well.
I dream about houses fairly regularly. Sometimes I’ll visit the same one in multiple dreams over the course of many years, but I’ll discover a room or a person I didn’t know was there. I’m hoping if I think about this house I’m building enough in the daytime I may be able to walk through it in my dreams at night.
When was the last time you built a world in your mind or on paper? I bet it was something you did a lot as a kid. You may be rusty, but I’m willing to bet if you dusted off your brain a little there would be no end to what you can imagine.