Orange County [repost]

Irvine sunset traffic driving

And every good writer has a conflicted relationship with the place he grew up. ~ Marcus Skinner in Orange County

I saw this movie yesterday and enjoyed it. There were a lot of funny moments with Jack Black and the superstar cameos (Lily Tomlin, Chevy Chase). It also had some things to say about Orange County ~ the wealth, the drugs, the surf “culture,” etc. Any sensitive, aware person, writer or no, is going to be conflicted about growing up here, which is why my daughters skedaddled out first chance they got.

But overall, the movie focuses on a young man’s passionate dream of becoming a writer and getting accepted to Stanford. (A famous author, Marcus Skinner, who inspired the protagonist to begin writing, is a Stanford professor.) The protag used his own family as characters in his first story because they’re interesting kooks, and this made his story a standout. But in the classic twist, these same people seem to be preventing him from achieving the rest of his dream: getting out of the OC and going away to college.

I’ve been thinking about the quote at top and if it applies to me, not that I’m necessarily a good writer. I don’t have a conflict with the East Coast, but let’s say I grew up in Illinois (age 13-22). A case could be made for conflict there. I don’t write about that though. My stories (romance or otherwise) always take place in California.


Image is mine.

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9 responses to “Orange County [repost]

  1. That’s my conflict with Wisconsin, which is like Illinois only prettier and marginally less corrupt, though we are working on bringing both of those in line with our neighbor to the south. No one puts a romance in Milwaukee. I guess it’s because it’s a funny sounding word, like “pickle” or Cincinnati. Of course I don’t write romances so not a problem. But maybe it’s WHY I don’t write romances.


  2. I absolutely have a conflicted relationship with Berkeley, California. Yet as infamous as the place may be to some people, my conflicts are really all about me. The place itself has no great cause for shame.

    Orange County sounds like an entertaining movie.

    Hmm. My son moved out of the OV and into the OC. I wonder how much inner conflict that transition represents?


  3. Seems like it would be easier to set a story where it’s always pretty warm and the weather is always nice. What I mean is, there is no weather, so in a sense it is like making all your characters wealthy. If you want one of them to own a BMW they drive around in the middle of a weekday, no sweat, and if it’s winter, and she gets a flat tire, they can have the cute meet without the tire chains and the parkas and the frostbite.
    Or, thinking of the TV show, Burn Notice, set in Miami, which loses a great deal of credibility because no one ever complains about the humidity.

    I am not conflicted about Palo Alto at all, and I think it’s because I am shallow. I wrote a (true) story once about us guys getting drunk and cutting the roof off of my ’54 Ford and someone mentioned that there would be potential for conflict/tension in the story if I touched upon how it felt to be an auto shop gearhead in such an affluent town of professionals. I realized that I never, ever thought about that back then.


  4. Chris.tine ~ I bet out of all the zillions of romance novels on the market, there is ONE set in Milwaukee. Must start a search…

    Don ~ Well, I would say that moving into the OC represents a need for some kind of stability and structure with a view to creating a family life, etc. It’s not exactly the place you think of when you want to have a bunch of single-person fun/culture/nightlife.

    Roy ~ Very true. The weather is not a “character” in my writing, as it would be in other locales. I don’t have peeps taking shelter from storms in cleverly placed old abandoned cabins. “OMG! Whatever shall we do now?”


  5. I don’t have a conflicted relationship with where I grew up, but I guess I grew up in the suburbs of London, which feels like a pretty bland nowhere sort of place, albeit within easy reach of more interesting parts of London on the Tube. But I do have a very conflicted relationship with Oxford, where I did my BA, and that features in my novel.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I still love that picture. I re-read my comment, and still agree with it.
    Interesting to wonder where my stories should be set. So far, it seems easiest to set them here where I now live, so, might as well as long as there’s no compelling artistic reason not to.
    I don’t have a conflicted relationship with Palo Alto, mainly because in one very real sense, it is not there anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually I have now written settings in other places, mostly Aruba in Ghosted. I did a ton of research and it felt OK. I need to feel I’m “there” while writing, which is why I failed at writing a murder in first person. People said it didn’t sound authentic. Flash fiction is good for that though…


      • Right. Flash fiction by definition has so many blanks for the reader to fill in, it can work as long as you supply some some of framework for a story. Literally, people who know me know I have a long-standing gag where I see something odd taking place, and simply say, “There’s a story there somewhere.” It always gets a laugh, and I always wonder how many funny stories just welled up in the minds of people who heard my remark.

        Liked by 1 person

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