Thursday, October 31, 2013

I Live Next Door to a Cemetery

by Teresa Slack

Let’s face it. Writers are weird. We’re fascinated by things the rest of the world ignores, fears, dreads or dismisses. Case in point: Cemeteries. Show me a writer who doesn’t love walking through one reading the headstones and thinking of all the stories represented, and I’ll show you an odd writer who probably hasn’t written in a while.

While other couples visit antique shops and museums on vacation, my husband and I plan our route around nearby cemeteries. One stone I will never forget from a cemetery in Winchester, KY was an epitaph to a baby boy who had died in 1900 shortly before his first birthday. It read: “How many dreams lie buried here?”
Doesn’t that sum it up?

I live next door to a cemetery. Nearly every time a guest visits my house for the first time I get some variation of the following question: “Aren’t you creeped out living so close to a cemetery?” My husband always laughs and says, “At least the neighbors are quiet.”

The writer in me couldn’t be happier with the cracked, faded marble stones marching up the hillside where I walk my dogs. It’s a small cemetery with stones beginning pre-Civil War to present day. While the dogs sniff for deer and raccoon and chase skittering leaves, I browse the stones and imagine what life was like for people I never met.

How many dreams, secrets, lies, fears, triumphs and stories are buried under each headstone? Tomorrow is November 1st—the beginning of National Novel Writing Month for many writers around the world. Do you need inspiration before you get started? I dare you to visit a local cemetery on this chilly, windy Halloween. You’ll be amazed by the stories waiting to be told. Are you brave enough to be the one to write them?


Molly Noble Bull said...

Who but Teresa would openly admit something like this. I live half a block from a school.

Teresa Slack said...

My neighbors are quieter, Molly, and better behaved. Also very conducive to sparking the muse within me. Thanks for writing.

Karen Gass said...

What a thing have on your marker. I hope on mine it can something like "She loved her God-given dreams" or tried to anyway. It makes me sad to think of this man, who had dreams but probably someone (mother, father, wife) squelched them with negative signals and talk. It's so important to encourage one another period, but also in achieving our dreams. You've given me good material for a character in my book - thank you! :)

Cynthia A. Lovely said...

Interesting post! I agree with you, there are so many stories that come to mind reading the different headstones. A walk through the cemetery next time I hit the dreaded writers block :)

Teresa Slack said...

Karen, the parents had posted this on their baby son's headstone. I can imagine how they grieved for him. I love reading stones & creating characters and things that might've happened to them. Cynthia, a walk thru a cemetery always leaves me with more ideas than I know what to do with. Love it.