Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Saturday, September 24, 2011

How do you learn about where you are living? You write about it, of course!

I may live in Oregon, but I am not a native Oregonian. Sure, I come from a nomadic family that moved from one city to another, one state to another. But in my heart, California is my home. It’s where I was born and where I spent the majority of my life (so far – we’ll see how long I end up living in Oregon!).

I came to Oregon in 2005 and, at first, I didn’t really call it home. In fact, I spent the bulk of my early time here mostly communicating with people back “home” and hoping, dreaming of moving back.

After 6 years in Oregon, however, those dreams of moving back to California are starting to fade. And, in fact, Oregon is starting to grow on me. I still love California, of course, but I have come to accept that Oregon is my home now. So I better get used to it!

One part of “getting used to it”? Looking into what Oregon is all about. From reading the papers and talking with people, seeing the sights and checking things out, I have gained a better understanding of what life is like here. One thing that has helped increase this understanding? Writing about all things Oregon. I have already written a novel set here in Eugene (it’s an unedited manuscript at this point, but I have plans to fix it up and send it off to my publisher in the near future.). But I have also written Oregon-related articles.

In fact, I made it my mission to search them out, just so I could learn more about something related to Oregon.

They say that writers should write what you know. A writer friend said this week on her Facebook page that, for her, it’s “write what you want to learn.” And I have to agree with her. There’s so many things I have learned about just from writing about them. And this has helped me to understand Oregon better, too.

When I was writing for Demand Media, Inc. (eHow), I wrote Oregon-related articles. There’s

Free Eye Exams & Glasses for Seniors with Low Income in Oregon
Recycled & Reclaimed Wood Products in Oregon (I even called up one business in Portland that was selling such products to ask them about what kinds of things they sell)

Do it Yourself Divorce in Oregon

Now that I’m writing elsewhere, I look for other Oregon-related articles to write. I actually did one recently, at Helium:

Fall festivals in Oregon

Just as I am learning things about disability law and rights for the disabled as I write about deaf-related issues for SIGNews, so, too, am I learning things about this new state I live in thanks to writing about it. Of course I’m actually out there checking places out, talking to people and visiting businesses (in addition to reading the papers). Any chance we get to visit another Oregon city, I'm there! I have visited the coast and Portland, and have seen Grants Pass as well as Cottage Grove. Our drive through Oregon to get to Eugene had me looking at all the cities we passed through. But in addition to doing these things, I am also writing about anything and everything related to what life is like here in Oregon. This is helping me understand things here better and know about stuff that is going on here. Because, the way I see it, if I am going to be living here instead of dreaming of hitting the road someday or moving back to California, then I might as well know the ins and outs of life in this state. It’s helping me to know what to expect while living here and, the bonus is, it’s opening doors for me to meet more people and get to know native Oregonians who can add to my journey of learning what Oregon is all about.

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  • At 10:16 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

    I love this!! When I lived in Oregon, I also wanted to get my hands on everything I could to learn about that great state. I found TONS of freebie newspapers, as well as tons of books covering so many subjects related to current events, the culture and history of Oregon. I also contacted to Chamber of Commerce and they sent me boxes and boxes of literture. I was in Heaven!

  • At 11:13 AM , Blogger Dawn Wilson said...

    That's awesome, Jenn! It's good to know they were so accommodating to you. I have checked out Oregon books at the local library and there was some VERY interesting things about Oregon that I learned in those books. Until I moved to Eugene, I never knew that this is where Nike was founded and I didn't know that Eugene was called "Track Town." A lot of interesting history is in this city/state. It's also nice when people share stories about things that have happened here and friends share info about certain places or histories. Thank you for commenting.

  • At 10:31 PM , Blogger Sheila Deeth said...

    Nice to meet another non-native Oregonian. And this article's fascinating--so many avenues for writing that I've never even thought of.

  • At 6:29 AM , Blogger Dawn Wilson said...

    Hi, Sheila. Thank you for your comment. It is so interesting what new writing adventures our life experiences can take us on, isn't it? And it's nice to meet you, too. :)


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