Iowa Is Good for Writing

My friend and her husband are driving cross country to deliver a car to their daughter in D.C.

Nevada and Utah were blanketed in snow, which made for stunning pictures. Wyoming was another matter. Flat is the only word for it. A view of the occasional cow on some green land was the only bump on the landscape.

Now they’re in Iowa, home of John Wayne and its depressing Main Street, which looks more like a movie set than a real place for real people who work, play and raise families.  

I’m so used to living on the coasts that I forget there’s a whole country in the middle of the country. It looks like a foreign land to me. I expect people to be speaking another language and living another culture. And perhaps they do. They are ranchers and farmers and people who have worked the cornfields all their lives.

I looked up employment in Iowa. The list included pizza driver, office clerk, test administrator and library assistant. I noticed there weren’t any tech jobs. That’s probably because there’s no internet. Who needs internet for herding cows? Two border collies will do.

What I did discover were a ton of bloggers from Iowa. A lot of them are food blogs. But I don’t see Iowa as a foodie destination. How many blog posts do you need for grilling hamburgers?

It’s worth mentioning that there’s the famous Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop, which has produced many award-winning authors over the years.

For some, looking at pasture lands and grazing cattle fosters the urge to write. I, for one, wouldn’t find any inspiration looking at a cow chewing the cud. I’d need some action like a line of geese following a marching band.

Calvin says, “And to think Iowa is the bellwether of American politics.” beagle




10 thoughts on “Iowa Is Good for Writing

  1. Iowa surely fostered my writing. I lived there from 1959-1981. Because it’s safe and boring, and the winters are awful, there’s time to think, study and take artistic chances. Like the rest of the country, they get the same media, but the myths that shape minds aren’t usually set there. If develops a great sense of the absurd, seeing that outsiders think it’s all farms. I spent more time on farms after moving to California. In Iowa I was performing in avant garde plays, playing in rock bands, singing in performance choirs and studying filmmaking. Iowa historically swings between progressive populism and conservatism. I got out when the majority swung more to the right, but there’s always this hot core of edginess hiding in plain sight.

    Oh, and I never write about food 😀

      1. Just started one called “How to Be a Film Geek” that should come out via Bennison Books (UK) by next year. And I have screenplay outlines I hope to flesh out now.

        I retired last week from a six-day-a-week job as a medical imaging technologist. That monopolized my energy over the past dozen years, aside from blogging, which I used sporadically in the past six to shake off the rust. I like playing a long game.

        You know, I bet every state is amazing if you look beyond the surface. That’s one reason I like travel so much. It’s always an eye opener, just as you portrayed in this article.

  2. I had ideas about Minnesota, too, until I lived there for a couple of years. Beyond the ice and snow, it was (in the ’80s anyway) a vital center for the arts, especially performing arts. Who knew?

    1. Still is an arts vortex I bet. The Guthrie Theater is world famous, as high quality as anything on Broadway. Sound 80 – top shelf recording studios. Dudley Riggs improv theater, as good as Second City or The Groundlings. Plus, you get all kinds of acts and TV channels from Canada that far north. Again, harsh winters. Almost forgot St. Olaf’s, one of the top 5 vocal music schools in the world.

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