Thursday, July 21, 2011

Road Trip Day 2

This hotel room looks empty as we leave.
I repacked the cooler and day bags.
Everything goes in the same place
even as all routines dwindle to
today’s Tour de France:
Updates stream
on the laptop.

The clocks change
as we cross state lines,
drive past pine-covered mountains,
lines of July snow on the highest ridges.
At a rest stop, the song of an unseen bird echoes.

Tonight we’ll sleep deeply,
perhaps dreaming of home, that bird,
and the road south.

We are on the road to Tucson, a 1,600 drive down past Yellowstone. Yesterday we crossed Idaho and reached Missoula MT. Place names along the way reminded us of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and we wondered what it was like to cross this mountain country in the 1840s. Early roads routinely washed out. Not many people live in this land of snow, but as we reach Missoula, the land flattens to valleys and a sense of respite. The mountains remain a presence, though. Today's prompt came from Robert Lee Brewer, #141 "empty".

Sunday, July 03, 2011

On writing . . .

I'm digging into the research for Years of Stone. The saga continues as Mac, arrested for protesting evictions and transported by sailing ship to Tasmania from Scotland, confronts 19th Century Van Dieman's Land, Britain's dumping ground for criminals. Deidre follows him into an uncertain future.

Today I found that Tasmania has its own "Southern Lights", and I'm reading Ken McGoogan's Lady Franklin's Revenge, not a romance but nonfiction backstory on Sir John Franklin, famous Arctic explorer who served as Governor in Van Diemen's Land 1837-1843. McGoogan includes photos, maps, and rich detail of the life in Hobart Town of that time.

But as I balance between writing and researching, I'm also motivated by Dean Wesley Smith's advice: "Your job is to tell the story and make things up." My characters move the story forward. So finally, I'm writing. As Dean says, "If you carve out writing time, spend it on creating new words."

As many articles that I've read that give writers various kinds of advice, Dean's words resonate. Yes, sometimes a story needs to marinate. Yes, writers need to master all kinds of technical skills, not the least being a sense of "truthiness" in writing historical fiction. Even for those days when words don't come easily, I'm still making progress, and that feels good.