Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Monday, April 02, 2018

A to B: Ambivalent Beauty

A is for ambivalent, that tweak
of mourning yesterday, missed deadlines,
stalled story. Where is ambition?
I've lost my agenda. Again.
Before I fall into despair, today's letter
beckons. Because I can
break through this barrier:
Beauty beckons.
Defends that inner life.

Spring, Manito Park (Camp 2016)
This morning (and last night too), I was feeling discouraged about my writing. Does that happen to writers? Yes? Do we talk about it? Not often. I've been marching through Randy Ingermanson's SNOWFLAKE, having fun with a new story, but somewhat protesting along the way against the lockstep outline approach, sliding some days into nattering away.

Should the hero be male or female? Should I write a contemporary story when most of my writing has been set in mid-19th Century? Why am I drawn to the dark side of history, class conflicts, the struggle to make 'things' better? Why do I need to write at all? Aren't I at that age when it's quite permissible to simply 'play' through this next decade, perhaps my last? And how can I resolve all of these questions truly, for each day is different, yet the same?

One of my marketing goals is to send a monthly newsletter. If I were to construct a persona for reaching out to readers, this wouldn't be me. I do love spring flowers, quilt, occasionally drink tea. I'm not exactly the cheery soul my picture predicts. "But you look so nice!" I've heard that a time or two. When I think about the 19th Century, before birth control, before women's votes, before the law changed the definition of women as property, I wonder how women survived, how they created a life, fell in love, raised children, and how they achieved their dreams. And perhaps how they said 'yes,' when they wanted to say 'no.'

This current story I'm working on, The Seventh Tapestry, draws me into settings I love (Edinburgh and Paris), a web of medieval history, contemporary crime drama, and maybe impetuous love that doesn't recognize consequences. Sometimes we are driven along by our passions. Or we are not brave enough to test our boundaries. Sometimes we don't see what we risk when we welcome change. Note: This last statement seems ironic when I take such joy in living out of a suitcase with my own DH, eager to explore new locales, museums, and old towns.

On one level, the theme could be: Love triumphs! One man and one woman learn to trust each other and fall in love. Happy ending: We caught the bad guys! But what did this couple leave behind? What lies ahead? And did they truly catch the bad guys? Perhaps they feel grateful they've found that one person to build a life with. Finally. Maybe that's enough. For the true goal of genre fiction is to entertain -- with characters we can care about and hope they find, at the very least, that happy-for-now ending.

Botanical Garden, Edinburgh (Camp 2009)
Along the way, I hope my writing celebrates all those artists who with words or paint or thread somehow made and make something of beauty.

Beauty: That's today's word.
Find and nurture beauty in all its forms.
Share. Repeat with kindness and joy.

An added note: Today's post is the first for April's Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Why not see what others are writing about?

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