This week I had the pleasure to visit Prince Edward Island in Atlantic Canada, the homeland of author L.M. Montgomery. She is best known for bringing to life the story of Anne of Green Gables. She was one of my favourite writers in childhood and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to walk the island she called home, exploring her old haunts. Sweeping fields sit atop red cliffs stretching over the shoreline; pockets of forests stand proudly over iron rich ruddy soil; the crisp sea breeze lifts long prairie grasses, their golden plumes dancing over the ground. This was her playground, and these were the images that inspired her short stories and the creation of Anne Shirley. It was astonishing to learn that I recognized these very images in her words long before I had the opportunity to see them.
I thought back to all the places I lived. I moved several times as a child, but I brought a piece of every place with me and even now, they emerge in my stories and poems. I believe many writers are influenced by their environment, the places they’ve visited and lived; their stories spring from the places they call home, and readers indirectly identify with the images embedded in their work. Our environment, in the past and the present, reveals the truth of where we’ve been and where we are today, and that’s what makes our stories so poignant and memorable.
This journey exposed an enchanting characteristic of my own work that I have only just begun to utilize. It’s amazing the stories your environment can tell.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.
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