Personal Geographic

Some of my readers know already that I’m a big fan of National Geographic. For someone who studied anthropology for years, it’s pretty much like periodical crack. (Yes, periodical crack can be read both ways.) I dig the magazine so much, that I spend an hour or two every month reading it cover-to-cover in order to scribble over any non-G rated language so that my children can read the magazine and become educated world citizens without losing their innocence. To some people, that last sentence probably seemed like a paradox, but if you’re an Orthodox Jewish mother with a graduate degree in anthropology and children, it’ll make perfect sense.

Garrison Keillor’s Personal Geographic

MagazineThe February issue has a delightful article by Gerrison Keillor, all about his personal geography. He meanders his way through time and space, describing the landscape of “his” Minnesota: here’s where he went on a field trip, there he had his first job, his cousin died on that spot.

Your Personal Geographic

I thought this was a marvelous exercise for a writer: take a map, add the landmarks of your personal geography to it, then write. Or, better yet, map the setting of your story. Add the landmarks of your characters’ lives. Where did they meet? Where did they lose something? Where did they find something? Now, write.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share them in the comments below.

One thought on “Personal Geographic

  1. It is definitely possible for children to become educated world citizens without losing their innocence. Children’s magazines such as Mishpacha Jr. have made noble attempts to present various countries and cultures in an innocuous manner. The National Geographic Kids magazine has been enjoyed in our home, as well. The adults’ National Geographic magazine definitely adds a degree of sophistication, although it has sometimes taken a biased, pro-Palestinian perspective when reporting on Israel.

    Most of my personal geography would be limited to North Hollywood, CA (I avoid using the name “Valley Village”) and other parts of the city of Los Angeles. Happily, some of it would get more interesting, as it would include Israel. I definitely want to give it some more thought.


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