Lasting Impression

Happy Friday everyone! Casey here.

Once upon a time, when I was six years old, my family took a vacation to Salem, MA. And I never forgot it. Even though I was only six, I retain vivid memories of Salem: Our view out the window of the Hawthorne Hotel, quizzing the tour guide at the House of Seven Gables, and seeing mustard seeds for the first time at the Lighthouse. I experienced an awakening on that trip – my love of old houses and history was born in Salem.

But, alas, the trip also had a dark side. The Salem Witch Museum made an extreme impression on me. Maybe it was the fact that we were ushered into a dark room and told to stand in an illuminated circle in the center. Or it could have been the first display: two red eyes gleaming in the dark accompanied by a loud voice declaring the devil exists. And possibly it was the tableau of Giles Cory being pressed to death.

Yeah, that made a lasting impression.

So what does this have to do with writing? Everything!

We need to make an impression on the reader. If they enjoy your story, then they will add you to their TBR list (to be read!). The best stories are the ones that make us feel something (fear, love, sadness, joy) and those are the books and authors we come back to time and again. Because the reader wants to go on a journey and they want to be immersed in a world. Forget this at your peril!

Several years ago, I returned to Salem with my husband and children. And you bet, I visited the Salem Witch Museum. Youngest son was the only one interested in going. Hubby and older son heard the word museum and decided to shop instead. To my surprise, the museum has not changed its presentation. We stood in the circle, we saw the same displays (I’m guessing they’ve been updated or at least refreshed) and I still felt awful for poor Giles Corey.

In a way, it was a relief that the museum hadn’t changed all that much. It meant that my recollections weren’t my imagination. I felt vindicated. Even better, youngest son, who was ten at the time, thought it was a cool place.

You’re turn to share – what stories or places have made a lasting impression on you? Which stories or writers do you go back to time and again? And why?

26 thoughts on “Lasting Impression”

  1. I remember visiting the museum years ago on a family vacation with my parents. One display in particular stuck in my mind. It depicted an accused male witch being crushed by a giant rock. The sheriff stands over the poor victim and uses his cane to prod the suffocating wretch’s tongue back in his mouth.

    I think if you survived the crushing weight of the rock it proved you were a witch. Consequently, you were executed. If you died, it proved you were innocent of the charges against you.

  2. The Crucible made a lasting impression on me. That a man was so concerned about his name, and how it would affect his children, that he chose death. Compare that to today’s reality shows where every loser on the planet gets his fifteen minutes of fame by waving the family’s dirty laundry. Ugh.

  3. I didn’t see the Salem Witch Museum as a child, didn’t grow up in New England, but I went as an adult and as a tired-already-that-day adult, so I didn’t really feel “the magic.” Or “magick.” 😉

    However, I did grow up in the rural Bible Belt South. Maybe I saw real-life people all too often being judged and basically exiled-in-place. Also, one of the scariest places for a child to be, IMO, is inside a tent meeting on a midsummer night with a ranting sweating preacher exhorting us to come down to the front and “accept Jesus, etc.” before “it’s too late” with the thunder of an approaching storm rumbling outside.

      1. Thanks, Jamie. There are some aspects of that in my mystery series, but it’s narrated by an adult. However —

        A story set in The Bible Belt and told through the eyes of a sensitive child? Hmm … ya got me thinkin’. 😉

  4. The one book series I can’t get out of my head is Diana Gabaldon’s, OUTLANDER series. Those stories have taken me on such an incredible journey, I feel as if Jamie and Claire are family and I am completely invested in their trials and tribulations. I can’t wait for the next one to come out. That’s the kind of lasting impression I want to learn to create in my writing. i can only hope to aspire to such greatness.

    1. I loved the first three Outlander novels. I had a hard time with the later books. It all goes back to that attention span thing – too much long winded prose and you’ve lost me.

  5. Here we go again, sister-soul. Salem, Massachusetts is one of my favorite places on earth! I went in my early 20’s, and we went to the Witch Museum as well. I didn’t enjoy it–I have a connection to the real religion of Witchcraft–but I can see how that place would make a huge impression on a child!

    You asked about stories that did make impressions, and this post definitely reminds me of the play THE CRUCIBLE. When I read it as a younger person, I was so struck by the panic of the people, and the way that everyone turned so quickly on others. I couldn’t believe people could be so caught up in a frenzy that way. And John Proctor made a huge impression on me–his struggle to do what was right and honorable even though he considered himself a sinful man. I loved that play so much and wanted so badly to perform in it someday.

    I got my wish. I am playing Rebecca Nurse in a production of THE CRUCIBLE in April and May of this year. I can’t wait to have a lifelong dream come true!

  6. Lasting impression: the final scene in Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.
    I won’t describe it here because it is too perfect to even try to replicate.
    When your creative writing teacher says, “End with image,” read the last scene of TGOW and see for yourself. Pure emotional genius.

    1. One of my favorite places in Salem is the Peabody Essex Museum. Before I went, I hadn’t thought of the East India Trade Company as a global interest – whoever imagined that for back then? – but they were, Those seafarers give a new dept to the term “business travel.” The museum is a treasure-trove of things they brought back home.

  7. Love, love, love Salem! The House of Seven Gables is my favorite! And all of my novels and novels-to-be (so far, anyway) feature something hidden in the house. “Research” trip this fall, New Englanders?

    1. Oh heck yeah!! I’m dying to go back there. I loved the House of Seven Gables. Sadly, we did not go in last time. I don’t want to miss it again! That is the first “old house” I really fell in love with. It’s strange. I can still remember the attic, the herbs dying in the eaves and me quizzing the tour lady about everything.

  8. I remember a great restaurant and a woman’s bible convention in Salem. That’s it. But what impressed me when I was 8 years old was a movie called “Canderville Ghost.” It lived in the walls and fireplace, and half scared me to death. I was afraid of everything, including thunder. Do you still look under the bed? Not me, I might find that ghost. Kool post Casey.

    1. No, I don’t look under my bed. I know what’s under there – dust bunnies the size of my cat and shoe boxes full of manuscripts and notes. I don’t like leaving the closet door open while I sleep. Just creeps me right out!!

  9. I haven’t been to Witch Museum in Salem, Massachusetts but I would like too. Adding to my bucket list. On one of my cruises, the boat stopped at Key West. Hubby and I took a ghost tour and I was amazed. A wall that smelled of smoke, a mysterious purple light that could only be seen in your camera screen. A haunted park bench in front of the local library. I keep wanting to go back to experience the park bench again. But I haven’t made it yet.

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