I think that the truth is that I’m not really here to blog today. I didn’t come here with the intention of giving you a Once Upon a Time Update. I didn’t come here with some big plan for the perfect update post. The truth is, I came here to avoid what comes next.
bit by bit…
You may remember that I wrote myself into a pretty nasty plot hole [How about a little…] and wasn’t sure how to salvage what I had while fixing the holes. I needed the ability to transcribe. I have discovered Scrivener. It allows me to place my old manuscript on the right while starting a new document on the left. This has given me the opportunity to transcribe what is still great, save what needs to be put off until later, and then add new scenes or fix old ones wherever it’s needed.
I’ve transcribed about a third of it and almost doubled that with new scenes and expansions on those already existing. It’s a slow process, but bit by bit, it is coming along. Yesterday, I rewrote an entire breakfast scene. Which brought me to what I am avoiding today.
it’s a work of fiction
I keep reminding myself that this is fiction. Yes, I am using my real ancestors. Yes, I am using the census to find their real neighbors. Yes, I am using real names. It’s a neat little element to my story. Real people that actually existed and possibly interacted with each other. Real places that actually existed in a now defunct village.
What if I mess this up? What if somebody else’s descendant is offended because I made their great³ uncle into a real jerk? My own great4 uncle is kind of a self important jerk in my story. Maybe he wasn’t. Maybe he was the nicest one out of all of them. But, it’s just a work of fiction.
not everyone is family
So, I’m here on my blog instead of working on the next scene in Once Upon a Time in Iowa. Why? Because it is time for Mary Cardelia to leave the farm and venture off to check on a neighbor following the nasty storm they had the night before.
It took a lot of research, but I finally found someone who fit the very specific person I was looking for. I needed a reason for Mary to be checking on her, and I had one in mind. I needed someone who was pregnant in the summer of 1871 and living near enough to the Hecox family that they might have a close enough relationship to warrant concern for the pregnant neighbor whose husband just might have gone to Magnolia or Council Bluffs for supplies. It was a tall order, but I found somebody.
Her name is Jerusha Steen, and she wasn’t as pregnant as I would have liked her to be, but she was very likely aware of her pregnancy by the time this storm rolled around. She was the only one I found who was likely pregnant when I needed her to be. Bonus, I absolutely love her name. Jerusha. It is so beautiful.
But, the Steens have descendants, too. What if I give her the long flowing black hair I plan to give her, and it turns out she was a beautiful blonde with big blue eyes? What if I point out that she was unhappily married off at fourteen to a man twice her age, but it turns out that theirs was a match made in heaven?
my utter ridiculousness
The scene itself was already mostly written. It’s in that big 5 subject notebook I was telling you about. The names are blank because I didn’t have a neighbor to plug into the role, yet. Now, it’s a real person. It’s my first time venturing out of the family. And it terrifies me.
Yesterday, Mary rode her brother’s horse out to the Steen home. Using an old plot map, I found the best route for her to take. She followed along the Willow river, still swollen from the storms the night before. She rode past the grist mill, and for just a moment we can hear the squeaking and grinding of the grindstones before the rushing of the Willow overwhelms all else, again. When I left her, she could see the Steen’s house but had not yet arrived.
It’s as simple as tying the horse to the trough, pumping a little water for her, and heading off to find where the family is trying to stay cool. Easily found are six laughing children and one very tired mother. The scene is beautiful. There is nothing about it that should offend even the most sensitive of descendants. Yet, here I am suffering from the most terrible of stage fright. Can you even get stage fright from writing a book?
out of time…
Alas, I have come to the end of all that I can babble about. It’s time to swallow my fears and quash my butterflies. Like it or not, it is time to say goodbye to you, hop into my time machine, and venture back to 1871 where Jerusha doesn’t even know she’s waiting for Mary and poor Sweet Princess is in dire need of a cool drink. Time to push the unpause button and let them continue on with their story.