Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Backyards Tell Stories

Front yards are boring.
Backyards tell stories.
~ "Backyards", Popcorn, James Stevenson



I can't tell you how much I love this quote. It brings back favorite childhood memories, most of which really did happen in backyards around the neighborhood. I remember thinking front yards were for flowers and green, kid-free grass and grown-up conversations. But backyards and alleys...they belonged to the kids.

Backyards are for hide-and-seek and trampolines and summer sleep-outs. They are for pets and forts and imaginary play; for leaf piles and snowmen and slip-and-slides.

So often, when I dig for new ideas, it's those backyard memories that surface first. Backyards do indeed tell stories.

Do your backyard memories ever appear in your stories?

38 comments:

Slamdunk said...

Good topic. My last post was about the view from my back window.

When we purchased our house we did not think about how important a backyard is for children. The yard we own is not very large, but there is a huge open field behind our house that the kids can use for endless playing.

Jonathon Arntson said...

I've always lived unconventionally and never really had a backyard or a front yard. We just have space and no neighbors...it's really quite boring. I think this quote could create a neat analogy though. The front yard being our facade and the backyard being what goes on inside our heads.

Jaydee Morgan said...

In one of my manuscripts, I have a mother remembering her son playing in the backyard - I actually based the yard on my own.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Oh, my gosh! I LOVE that quote--so true, too.
I haven't used any backyard memories in my writng. But maybe I should!

Jayne said...

What a fabulous quote! Back gardens and alleys - yup, used to play happily for hours in the hidden places. And thinking about it, an alley is one of the main locations in my wip! How funny. :)

PJ Hoover said...

This is a great image, Shannon. I've never thought of it this way, but how perfect is that quote!

Bossy Betty said...

What a great quote, image and idea! You've set my head spinning with stories of bak yards I have known!

Tahereh said...

you always have the best quotations, Shannon! it's always the perfect thing to get our minds working again!

thanks for the boost! i feel like camping out on that backyard in the picture! hehe

Erica Mitchell-Spickard said...

I don't know that I was ever fond of the backyard, although I love the quote. We were "street" kids, the neighborhood filled up in the streets to play and wound up in our front yards more often. The dog thing is true though and did camp out in the backyard once. Here in the South the front seems to be more important with large porches in the front so we can see the neighbors and "drink sweeet tea". I don't have anything about a yard in my work, but I do have the importance of the front porch :)

Rayna M. Iyer said...

What a lovely quote.

Roxane B. Salonen said...

Shannon, yesterday I dropped off my daughter at a friend's and noted the beauty of the flowers in the front yard. She said, "You should see the back." And I said, "Really, are there flowers back there too?" And she said, "Well, no, but there's a trampoline." This is what you were conveying today -- that magical backyard. There might not be as many flowers, but there's a jumping board that nearly reaches to the sky. My flowers happen to be in the back yard. The owners before are responsible for that. I kind of like it. Not many see them, but I do, and I make sure to share them with my blog readers so more can appreciate their beauty. I've posted some of them today. I have many wonderful memories of back yards but had never thought of it like this before. I've also broken many bones in back-yard trees and swing-sets. Nevertheless, an adventure is an adventure. :)

Bane of Anubis said...

You bury the dog in the front yard, the bodies in the backyard :)

Rebecca @ Diary of a Virgin Novelist said...

Interesting idea. Backyards have yet to appear in my stories. I tend to write a lot about urban living though, so subways appear a lot!

Tere Kirkland said...

I've had a lot of backyards over the years, full of a lot of mostly happy memories of reading, grilling, daydreaming and playing. Many have wound up in writing in some form or another.

Just yesterday I stole a friend's backyard for a scene.

Great quote. Thanks!

laurapauling said...

I'm sure they do! Subconsciously.

Jennie Englund said...

That's another great, great quote (and picture)!

You're so inspiring!

Backyards say a lot about who we really are. In which case, I'm dry, full of holes, and overgrown with weeds.

Stephanie Thornton said...

That's a great quote! And totally true too.

I've written a fair number of scenes in Egypt's gardens, but not in yards. I don't think they'd been invented yet!

Jen Chandler said...

I daydreamed a lot when I was a kid (oh wait..I still do). I like to think that all that fantasy carried over into the here and now. I just have to translate it to story form. Thanks for the marvelous idea and quote.

Happy Wednesday,
Jen

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Great post.
When I was younger we always played in the back garden. My granddad lived in the countryside, so he had a 1/2 acre of land with fruit trees and ponds in it. It was like a magical kingdom. My own Secret Garden. :)

Janet Johnson said...

Love the picture of the backyard. It does make me want to go play a game. Kick the can, or something!

Great post. :)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Oh, that just propelled me back through the years. Backyards where plastic pools offered respite from the summer sun, where parties and barbecues were held, where dogs ran free and there were swings.
The only story I think I've infused with that was a short I wrote that featured maple trees, such as I had in one backyard as a kid.
Thanks, Shannon, for the memories!

Laura Marcella said...

Oooo, so true! Yes, backyards have appeared in my stories. There's something very magical about backyards!!!

Carolyn V. said...

We didn't have much of a backyard growing up. I guess that's why I love my big one I have now! =)

K.M. Weiland said...

The first line of your post made me smile, because as soon as I read the opening quote, I was bombarded with all kinds of backyard memories. Love it! Thanks so much for sharing.

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

Ooo, you get the prize for my favorite post of the day--because it's so true. Not sure if any of my backyard memories have specifically ended up in my book, but the freedom there, the feeling that it's your own private space to do whatever you want definitely is.

Great job #2 :)

Mary Aalgaard said...

This is great. I can visualize it. Can't wait to read your back yard tales. But, my experience is not like that. I grew up on a farm. And, my boys are in all parts of the yard, here and beyond. Still, when I chill, it's on my deck that looks over the back yard.

Palindrome said...

I don't even think I could stop my backyard memories from appearing in my stories. Love that quote!

Jemi Fraser said...

Great question - I loved my backyard growing up. No memories have made it into a book - but they will :)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

OMG I wish our backyard looked like that. There's not enough room in the backyard to do any of the things listed. The swing set and the berry bushes take up the rest. There's no where to hide (unless you want to crawl under the deck). :(

And to answer your question: nope. Well, maybe.

Terri Tiffany said...

I love that picture. I do most of my writing looking at my backyard:) And now that I think about it, the book I''m revising now has a ton of action in the back of the cottage.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Great ideas! Although my story doesn't mirror my childhood backyard, that area is represented in my manuscript.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

My parents had the most amazing backyard. They both loved to garden. And yes, I used an incident in one of my middle reader books. Great memories. Now my backyard is a different story. I've got to do something about that. Nothing like guilt. ;)

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I have never understood why people spend tons of money on their front yards. I loved our last house so much...We took down the house sized deck and replaced it with a smaller cedar deck, replaced every piece of wood in the gazebo and enclosed it, spent a fortune on landscaping and installing a hot tub and the perfect fountain. It was perfect...perfect for coffee, reading, playing cards, and writing....

Sandy Shin said...

Because I grew up in a different country, my memories are different and by backyard memories differ, but fragments of them do show up in my works, because they do remind me of what childhood is.

Patti Lacy said...

Oooh, constantly! What the Bayou Saw has a backyard scene!!!
Sandbox and all!

You have the most thought-provoking posts, Shannon.

P

Kristi Faith said...

Oh yes...I was lucky and didn't have a backyard. My travels weren't limited by a fence, so I always explored the surrounding "forests" (area of dense trees that equaled less than a mile) and other people's backyards. Love it!

AchingHope said...

*sigh* That was beauitufl :)

I haven't had any backyard memories in my books yet, but one day I'm sure I will.

Tyrean Martinson said...

I love that quote!
Growing up, my mom worked long hours at having a beautiful natural garden, and I remember someone saying it looked like a slightly overgrown garden of Eden. I always liked that.

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