Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Thursday, May 03, 2012

On writing . . . and finishing . . .

Three books so far. One rests in a drawer. A thriller, Mothers Don't Die. One is being sent out somewhat sporadically. Standing Stones introduces the MacDonnell clan during the Scottish Industrial Revolution. The current work in progress, Years of Stone, set in Tasmania mid 19th Century, steams right along.

Some days I think I'm learning more about my characters, about how to write their story in a way that reveals some essential truth about the struggle we all face to make our lives a little better. Some days the next book teases me with sly thoughts, and I wonder how long it will be before Years of Stone is truly finished and ready for some form of publication. I also wonder when I'll jump into self-publishing.

But mostly I just write in the morning because if I don't, I get grouchy and feel something elemental is missing, an anchor that keeps me connected to the past and the future in a way that is uniquely mine.

Even when the writing does not go well, when I can't write a sentence that pleases me, I still learn something new. Did you know that 'fadge' is Victorian slang for a farthing? Fadge became the name of one of my characters this week. Here's how he introduces himself:  "You know why they call me Fadge?” He spat. “’Cause my life’s not worth a farthing.”

Fadge is a hulk of a man, silent, enduring, and he's probably spent far too much time in solitary. And yet he shares his Sunday meal of boiled beef with a fellow prisoner. He is also mad to escape. For I'm down in the coal mines this week, in the dank and dark places where men grubbed coal out by hand in tunnels no more than 4 feet high, and young boys ran baskets of coal back to the mine shaft, to be pulled up some 70 feet by a winch. These boys have no names.

I write to bring this history alive -- if for no one else, then for me.

1 comment:

  1. I loved learning about fadge meaning farthing. And what a perfect name for your character. Excellent characterization and quick.

    I know how much I miss writing when I don't do it. On days when my other life intrudes so much I can't get a few sentences onto the page, I, too , feel a sense of loss. I always thought this would pass, but instead it's become stronger.

    I hope you find your agent or your publisher and can share some of your wonderful historical fiction with others. HF is one of my favorite reads.