Welcome to Rust Belt Girl, an exploration of writing the Rust Belt, from a female perspective. Using this blog, we could discuss which states and cities should be considered part of the Rust Belt, what’s “Rust Belt” and what’s “Great Lakes Region,” where the Rust Belt ends and Appalachia begins. We could talk about whether “Rust Belt” refers more to economics than geography. But let’s not. Politics? Nope.
Here’s why I began this blog: my creative writing keeps bringing me back to my native Ohio. It’s more than setting; more than shared industry and landmarks, natural and man-made. It’s more than regional dialect or terms like “pop.” It’s even more than shared faith, ethnicity, and lineages with their feast days and foods. It’s an ethos, I think, but I need to learn more.
Is Rust Belt writing a genre? Rust Belt Reader, written by Christine Borne, asked just this question in an attempt to “define the Literature of the Rust Belt” through critical book reviews. (Bring back the blog, Christine!) I especially love that she treats rusting as a “metamorphosis” rather than decay. After all, a phoenix rises from ashes. (And there’s my stereotypical stubborn Midwestern optimism in all its rusty glory). Is Rust Belt writing mere grit-lit? I don’t think so.
What about Rust Belt writers, themselves? Wanting to get their take on this emerging genre (watch out Southern Gothic!), I searched online and found news articles detailing the ruin, revolt, and revival of the Rust Belt, stories covering places like Chilicothe, OH, which is in the grips of the opeoid crisis. I found Belt Publishing, which zeros in on the Rust Belt and the Midwest through quality journalism and personal essays. I found nonfiction essays and the memoir of David Giffels and the the touching memoir written by Paul Hertneky, Rust Belt Boy (no relation), with his blog here at WordPress. I found the novel, American Rust by Phillipp Meyer–on my list of books to read.
Still, I thought, what about today’s female writer’s perspective? Another online search turned up an ad for a rust-colored women’s belt. Not helpful.
So, here I am, calling for writers and readers, rusty and not, to share their thoughts and reviews, comments, and snippets. Are you Rust Belt-born, bred? Lived there? Live there now? Does it affect what you read and write?
Here I will also share my own snippets from fictional stories–some of which call upon real memories of an Ohio girlhood–I’ve had published this spring (and beyond, I hope). Stay tuned, join in, and get rusty. (Sorry.)