Today marks an important change in this blog for me. I love blogging, and I'll still be posting about writer's craft or practical tools for writing, but instead of blogging three times a week, I'll be here only on Mondays. That will allow me to get into a bit more depth, with more examples of the techniques, I hope. There will be an addition, too, because this blog is about to get much more personal for me—I'll also be writing about the subject matter that inspired my current Work In Progress, and use elements of it to demonstrate the writer's craft topic when possible. At least that's the plan. We'll see if I can pull it off!
My WIP is a book I started years ago that means a lot to me, but that overwhelmed me at the time I was working on it. I got about half way through it and just had to put it aside and hope that I'd come back to it someday. It's a historical novel about the Shawnee Indians, set largely in the 1780s in the Ohio River Valley along the line of white settlements encroaching on Native American lands shortly after the War of Independence ended. To say that was a tense time is a serious understatement.
Believe it or not, this stuff is fascinating. At least I find it to be, because it's very powerful, and when you start digging into history you find things that are not only interesting, but shocking and disturbing. The heart of this story, though, is not the blood and battles and ideologies that shattered and shaped that time and our country, but the unbreakable friendship between two girls, one Shawnee and one white, who had to deal with the holocaust of war and its tentacles to survive.
I got so involved in digging into the history of that time, I spent about half my waking hours in the Newberry Library in Chicago (where I was living then) for a very long time. The Newberry is a research library (not lending, so you can't check anything out . . . you must be there and sit down with the resources you request and take notes). Back then—about eight years ago—none of the Newberry's material was available online, and I don't know if any is now. It has one of the world's best collections of Native American information, including very old books and treatises and original manuscripts that you are asked not to touch any more than necessary—they provide you with cotton gloves and a velvet-covered weight to place on the pages of a book to keep it open on the table in front of you so you don't have to touch it. Pencils only, no pens, for notes. Or you could take notes on your computer, but there was nothing to upload—it was old school. You get the idea. For the most part, I loved it. Until I realized I had a dragon by the tail and it was getting the better of me.
It felt akin to writing about the Holocaust all right, because these devastating events really happened and many of the characters in my book were real, too, which is why I got overwhelmed and had to stop to breathe. (The two girls and their families are fictional, but you know how it is with your main characters—symbiotic!)
So Mondays (except today) will be posts on writer's craft and practical tools, and, at some point in the next few weeks, will begin to incorporate posts on the world of Shawnee Indians and American settlers in the Ohio River Valley in the late 1700s.
I can't begin to tell you how much it means to be able to share this journey with all of you, and to be able to also read about your journeys and ideas and learn from what you share on your blogs or in your comments. See you next Monday!