I was rolling along nicely. I had completed enough of the research that I could begin. Sure, there would be things I needed to look up as I came across them — like pausing to look up coffee making to confirm Lewis could indeed percolate coffee. I used Robert G. Hewitt’s Coffee: It’s history, Cultivation and Uses — published in 1872 — because if you look up when the percolator was invented the credit is given to Hanson Goodrich in 1880, but page 77-78 of Hewitt’s book tells me that the Hecox family could, indeed, have percolated coffee in 1871, though Count Rumford’s percolator was a bit different than what we use now. Continued reading tells me that there was an even better method that I may use in my book. But, I digress.
As I said, I was rolling along nicely. I’d been sitting down with many of the supporting characters and getting to know my cast. I was debating on whether or not to sit with Mary Cardelia and get to know her first or let the story be my way of knowing her.
I was leaning towards taking what I’d learned about her from some of her siblings and her mother and running with it. After all, it’s her story I am writing.
Thus decided, I sat down. Ready to begin at last.
I couldn’t write a single word. Nothing. I couldn’t even begin when I provided myself with the word “The”. A great place to start. It can stem into anything.
The day was going by so slowly.
The thunder Thunder shook the house and lightening lit up the sky.
The idiot was going to kill himself!
See? Nothing to it.
Is it fear?
There are two reasons why I think I have to consider that fear may be contributing to my writer’s block.
It’s been FIVE years
Bully Troubles was released in August of 2013. That’s five years since I’ve published anything. Well, anything under my name. I spent a good part of those five years writing copy and ghost writing for other people. That’s five years out of the public eye. That’s five years for Bully Troubles to fade into the background.
Five years of writing to collect a paycheck. I was miserable. I wasn’t writing anything I cared about. Now, I’m taking on this.
It’s my family
Sure. Once Upon a Time in Iowa is a work of historical fiction. But, I’ve chosen to base this book on my own family. Not anything I know about them. Not any stories my family passed down through the generations. Those stories don’t seem to exist. I’ve decided to give them a story.
I have to do bad things to them. They are my family, and I don’t want to hurt them. What good is a story if there is never any turmoil?
What if somebody out there has the real story? Will they be offended? Upset? What if I use a neighbor off the census and portray them in a way that offends their descendants?
Am I afraid?
I think there is a very real possibility that I am. Afraid to fail. Afraid to succeed. Afraid to inflict the necessary damage my characters need in order to grow and become whatever they are going to be. This is the nature of a story. It must happen. And I, being the author, must be the one that does it to them. It is a heavy burden.
Am I afraid? Absolutely. Am I going to let it stop me? Hell no! And so, off I go to tackle the elusive Mary Cardelia Hecox, sit her down, and begin writing her story.
Summer of 1871 – ready or not, here I come!