Tag Archives: historical fiction

DIG! Gold in the Mountains

20 Mar

beachmound2I am greedy gold digger. And you can be, too. But first, a day trip.

Last Saturday we met up with my husband’s family in nearby Cocoa Beach. As I enjoyed chatting with my sister-in-law from a low lounge chair, I watched Michael help my son build a sandcastle.

“What is that?” I asked my husband when he returned.

“A castle,” he said. “With a mote, see?”

To be clear, this was not a castle. It was a hill of sand with a plastic shovel shoved on top. Slurping the last of my Diet Coke, I prepared to answer the call. I would mold this plain monolith into an architectural triumph truly worthy of its oceanfront real estate. Or so I thought.

beachmoundThat’s how it is at the outset of imagining our creative project. We envision a grand construction, replete with well-hewn walls, arcing steps and majestic spires. Digging around our idea is the easy part. But like my sandy heap, when we dig into itto form it into something more than a moundit can feel like an unmanageable mountain. Parts we thought we were solid start to crumble as we touch them.

That’s how it was with my would-be historical novel. My initial years of staggered research would have never ended either, if it hadn’t been for my Chicks pushing me past it. I’d still be digging myself into a hole, hoping to find new treasure to help my story take shape. I was hiding under the seemingly legitimate cover of research, convinced I needed more to put it all together.

“You have enough,” Eva told me one day as we floated around her pool. “Don’t be afraid to fill in the blanks.” Some time later she gave me a pirate reference book I didn’t have, in which she wrote further assurances:

“Tracey, you fought a good fight, did all the research possible and now is time to walk the plank. Don’t be scared and jump right in. The water will feel warm and calming, and all those ideas will come out flowing.”

While Florida gopher turtles like this one dig holes in my yard for shelter, I want to come out of my safe hole and do a different kind of digging.

While Florida gopher turtles like this one dig holes in my yard for shelter, I want to come out of my safe hole and do a different kind of digging.

Every time I start a new scene, which I’m happy to say I did again this week, I get scared anew. The urge is to dig down into the earth to search for more glittering gems, or worse yet, to simply avoid picking up a shovel altogether.

But in order to actually create something, I need to dig inside. Inside my settings.  Inside my characters’ heads. Inside my plot. Inside my imagination.

“I have enough,” I remind myself. “Fill in the blanks.”

That’s where I’m digging now, onward and upward. I’m proud to be the greedy climber I am today. Inside is where the gold is. And however long it takes, I’m determined to find it, up in these here mountains.

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Organize Like a Blogger

27 Nov

It’s after 3 a.m., and I should really be sleeping. Instead, I’m riding a wave of satisfaction at my latest effort to organize the roughly 75 years and 200 historical characters that are connected to my historical fiction novel. Oh, and the caffeine high from the hard-core Cokes my dad left from Thanksgiving might be playing a role.

At any rate, I’ve tried Word docs, Excel spreadsheets, even index cards in an attempt to harness the information overload. I even started using Scrivener’s writing software, which I do like. However, in the flurry of new information I’ve acquired in recent weeks, I’ve realized that I still haven’t found the ideal way to incorporate new facts and cross-reference effectively. Perhaps, that is, until now.

First let me backtrack just a bit to a few weeks ago. A client who just moved recommended me as a potential resource for an internal communications campaign for which external resources were being considered. I had a weekend to submit a proposal. Instead of cracking open PowerPoint, however, I decided to create a private blog, which was the intended delivery vehicle of the communications anyway.

As I told my fellow Chicks, I put all of my Chick training to good use. In just days, I was able to create a really fun, stylized proposal in just a matter of days. What’s more, I gained a deeper understanding of the organization between pages (not date of writing related) and posts (critical to date of writing). To me, the result felt very cool, very functional, and above all, very organized for future growth.

So tonight, I decided it might be fun-ctional to apply this concept of a private blog to my Goliath project–the “I-T” to which the antecedent is always understood by my Chicks and my patiently enduring husband to be “my never-ending historical fiction novel”. I spent hours just making a start, but at least I have a good general framework for building it out. And knowing that only I can access and view the blog makes it feel like an extension of my brain. But a LOT tidier.

This could be a turning point for me. Besides the potential of becoming vastly more organized with this project than I’ve been to-date, I’ve decided that even if I don’t live to see the fruition of this novel actually written to completion, I’m going to start enjoying the mystery clue-collecting process more. Who knows where this could lead next? And who cares, now that I’ve remembered why I started on this project? I really do love it and am determined to bring order to the historical chaos swirling around my major characters.

Truth be told, I work better when I at least FEEL organized. In fact, I don’t even like to sit at my computer at all unless and until my house is clean and organizing around me. This explains my lack of productivity over the past six months, when the process of moving out and moving in has me wanting to make everything perfect around me. The boxes are unpacked, but perfect–that’s gonna take some time (and money). Meanwhile, moving my equally intimidating pods of historical facts into my private blog-abase is giving me a serene sense of clutter conquest. At least on the screen, which is where I need to stay focused.

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