It was Thursday when it dawned on me that I'd written nothing for here. Worse, I had no idea for something I could write. The problem is I am editing a manuscript I plan to bring out March 21, one that I have to do word-for-word editing.
Writing excites and takes me out of myself. Editing requires a lot of plodding along. I look for grammar problems. I look for logical connections that didn't connect. I try to get rid of excess words where I am repeating something that already has been said. I also look at the characters to see if they are staying true. Basically editing has many masks, and a writer who does their own, must wear them all.
Because of the work involved, it's not hard to see why the claim is made you should hire someone else to edit your books. It's a great idea for those who have a thousand dollars to spare for a good editor, even several of them each hitting on different aspects of the writing. In depth editing requires more than letting Word say how it should be. A lot goes into it and it is not fun for me. It is, however, absolutely essential.
By the time I had finished on Friday, I knew I'd changed enough bits that I likely will have to go over it one more time before I put it out in March. I want it to be the 21st because it's my brother's birthday and the first full day of spring with the equinox being on the 20th. Perfect time for a coming of age story and the trip to Oregon in 1852.
I am not sure if I told the origin of the story in here. It began with my cousin and I as girls. When the family gathered for any occasion (and there were a lot of them), she and I would go for walks. We enjoyed making up stories, each one taking turns creating the next step in it. Matt and Amy grew from one of those walks.
In my mid 20s on an old Royal upright (which I still have), I typed the manuscript for the first time. I had carried it around in my head a long time by then. I rewrote it now and again through the years as I saw better ways to tell the story. In the 1990s, I worked with a professional consulting writer, who I'd send the typed pages and she'd mail them back with red marks and notations all over them. It cost me about $1500 by the time she'd gone over the whole manuscript. It was like taking a class, and I learned so much, way beyond editing and about writing itself, that I felt it was worth it.
In 2011, before I began bringing out my manuscripts as eBooks and paperbacks, I looked at it again. I didn't have the heart to bring it out. I was not sure if the first, which is a romance but so much more, would get me readers for the second. Even worse was the possibility that the first would be totally ignored. How do you let go of a story that is so dear to your heart? When readers ignore my work, it can be hard; but this one would be hardest of all. It has been part of my life what almost seems like all my life.
You know, sometimes a writer's first book is one they never should bring out. It's the love of their heart, and they just cannot be objective. Sometimes they have thrown everything into it and it just doesn't work as a cohesive story. I do not think this is one of those. I think it is a strong story of growth of people as well as what it took to make the westward trek.
To write this story of the Oregon Trail, I researched journals and history books. Many are still on my shelves. I had to know where they went, what they saw. I've driven parts of the trail and gone as far as the Platte River along pieces of it. Some places the land has changed a lot. Some is still there with the deep ruts to be seen.
The westward expansion, which some call Manifest Destiny, is still controversial given what it required be done with those who already lived in the country. There are some very tragic stories on both sides of it, but free land lay ahead. There was always someone eager to set out, leave behind family, and all they knew and face the risks.
I live on a Donation Land Claim and have two Conestoga wagon wheels, which most likely came west with the previous owners of this land. Part of my own family came to Oregon years later. For health reasons they left South Dakota in the early 1900s. By then they could make the trek to Oregon with cars and not wagons. When I was growing up, my family still regarded South Dakota as their homeland. They lived around Rapid City and up in the Black Hills which was land promised to the Lakota but taken when gold was found.
Once a year my whole family would gather at a place called Jantzen Beach for the North or South Dakota Day picnics. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and my father met up with their friends from the Dakotas. There were a lot of them back then. My cousins and I liked it for all the delicious food they brought, the carnival rides, fun house, and swimming pool.
Eventually, economics made Jantzen Beach no longer profitable enough to offer a big treed picnic area with those rides and the pool. Today it's a mall. Today my family is mostly gone on to where folks go.
look closely at this one-- there are 3 lamb faces in it...
On another subject, tomorrow, the 22nd, is my day to write something for Smart Girls Read Romances. I am making my case for why an old woman can make a good romance heroine even though it's not the usual case! I use a few pictures of myself when I was in my early 60s and my husband. My argument is that old women can do what they want. Most of us no longer want to be part of a romance ourselves-- even if we enjoy writing/reading them. But old doesn't mean undesirable. See if I made my case tomorrow-- Smart Girls Read Romance
Photos are all from February 20th and this years lambs-- which is more or less winding down. We lost some and saved some. With 36 newborn lambs, mostly they are on the ground and have a mother who wants them. The problems linger for a month or so as mama and baby adjust to their role. It can be chaotic and not at all quiet (counting sheep for me would not be relaxing-- I know too much). They get separated and bawl, often from across a small field where neither baby nor mama is willing to move and would rather cry.
On the other hand, when it's sunshining, as it was the 20th, and the lambs are finding how many ways they can run and play with each other, it really is pure delight. Hard stuff is behind. More hard stuff is ahead, but this day is pure pleasure.