It’s been said a thousand times that writing can be a lonely business. I agree, but for me it is really fun and exciting to be able to create a story out of thin air.
When writing a historical novel like I am doing now with my latest manuscript, “The Feather” a fantasy novel about the Lewis and Clark Expedition, you do have a road map as to the timeline of the story. It has a definite beginning, middle and end. Of course with a fantasy novel about an actual historical event like the Lewis and Clark Expedition I do have some leeway as to where I can take my fantasy story. I can add elements of surprise, mystery, adventure, excitement, and plot twists. What I can’t change are the actual facts on the ground as to they happened during that momentous ultimate 2-year road trip into the unknown.
Luckily, the two Captains on that expedition, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, as well as many other adventurers in that Corps of Discovery, wrote copious notes into their journals. But over the past two hundred and ten years, the expedition began in May, 2014 from St. Louis, MO, hundreds of books have been written about that adventure…hundreds. A few have been novels trying to recreate a narrative about what occurred during those long months lasting until 1806 as they documented discovery after discovery and presented the reality of the unexplored territory. Of course, the numerous Indian tribes and large population of native peoples knew about the indigenous species of plants and animals, but to the rest of the world it was all speculation.
For me as a writer describing what it was like to be on that expedition I have to be mindful of the detail that is essential to bring this story to life, as it actually happened, with my fictional dramatic twists of course. I have to describe accurately what the Corps of Discovery ate, how they were dressed, the condition of their camps, the journal descriptions of the relentless physical effort in crossing unforgiving landscapes. I can’t cheat or make up that detail just because I can as a writer of fiction. I have to be true to the events, environment, people and ultimate outcome of the expedition.
Ergo, the picture above. Ergo, why I am writing to all of you today. The amount of hours I am spending sloughing through all of this research seems unending. But I have to get it all right and correct for you. I’m not trying to elicit in this blog sympathy or a …”there, there, it will be okay in the end…” because I know it will all be okay in the end. I guess today, as I continue my work I just want a bit of company as I do my work. Because writing is a lonely business at times. Yes you are with your characters that you are writing about, but when you life your hands off the keyboard you realize it has just been you sitting in the room. There’s no one else around you.
The picture above shows just some of the books I am researching to get the facts correct and true so I can weave my fantasy story around those facts. The computer file on my PC desktop is crammed full of downloads from repositories of historical facts describing the true historical events of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
I can only say that for me, this manuscript is a “Bigee” not necessarily in size but importance. I just don’t want to leave anything out that will help you the reader feel like you were actually there. Hemmingway once said when asked how to write successfully he said that the writer should describe the environment. What the characters were wearing. What the weather was like, of course in his own terse compact language and verbiage he was successful.
And that is what I am trying to do with my latest manuscript, “The Feather.” I want you to know what the weather was like during their excruciating slog through the Bitterroot Mountains, what they looked and smelled like when they finally stumbled into the Nez Perce tribe on the Oregon-Washington border, and the thrill and relief they all felt when Sacajawea suddenly realized the tribal Shoshone Chief she was translating for Captains Lewis and Clark was actually her brother that she hadn’t seen in years since she was abducted. The tears and hugging even moved the hardened Yankees sitting in that important tribal conference between the Corps of Discovery and the Shoshone.
Anyway, thank you for letting me vent. I am so excited and confident about my new project. I can hardly wait to get it to you. The working book cover is below.
By the way, or btw in computer shorthand, on the left side of the picture above…the statue holding up my books…yeah, that’s William Shakespeare. I use him for inspiration. Tnx.