Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Timing is everything

 Going Home out September 21, 2015
In 2015, we are living through a period where being politically correct is dividing us as a country. It's not enough how we treat others, we have to say the right words and have the right opinions-- and each side argues over what those might be. I can laugh when my Word tries to correct the word waitress to server person (for a story taking place in 1901), but is it really funny to have to use zy instead of she or is it ze, which in the end will mean the same thing since there is a gender difference in how we appear-- whatever we might call ourselves.  

So we learn to say xe and pretty soon that's not okay and what comes next-- a desire to make words meaningless? It's not enough for us to fight over the issues actually impacting our country, we have to argue about things that happened long ago and force everyone to be politically correct-- until what is politically correct changes.

Several years ago, when I wrote Going Home, I knew a great deal about the American Civil War, having researched books and films, and having seen how it was viewed when I was in the South on vacations. I never dreamed the extreme divisiveness of that war would rise up in 2015. I didn't imagine the issues that were part of the Civil War were still roiling under the surface. Did the media, and by that I mean social media too, change everything or just reveal it?

Emotionally, the resentments experienced between North and South seem to have returned with accusations that Southerners who fought for the South all fought for slavery, that they were all traitors, not heroes-- followed by a demand that statues of Confederate leaders be removed from parks and the Confederate flag be viewed as a symbol of shame. In the eyes of some, the Confederate flag was the reason for the recent Charleston church murders. They believed that those flying it wanted to secretly illustrate their disdain for blacks and their feeling of superiority. And so the arguments raged.

When it became one of those politically correct issues several months ago (yes, it's about being PC because there is no real call for action or change beyond symbolisms), I hoped it would settle down before my book came out in September, but with Ken Burns documentary on the Civil War being run again, the side, that knows how it was back then, tolerates no dissent and rose to criticize even his even-handed depiction of a War that caused more American deaths than any other. How dare anyone suggest honorable men served on both sides?  

When you write an historical series, you try to keep it realistic to what you think would happen to these people (to a reasonable level as some words are simply not acceptable today-- accurate for then or not). When it's a romance, of course, you also want to give it a touch of emotional magic because real life too often doesn't do that.

My hero had come to Oregon two years before the war broke out. He bought a ranch, fell in love, and regarded Oregon as his home. Then his mother wrote from their Georgia plantation that his brothers had joined the Confederate army, and she was dying. She begged him to return home. Once he got there, the choices narrowed, and he did fight for the South even though he neither believed in secession nor slavery. He did believe in family and clan.

The book opens when the war has just ended. Jed, bringing his half brother to Oregon for the first time, has returned to an Oregon angry at anyone who fought on the Southern side, an Oregon filled with hypocrisy (a law was passed to forbid blacks from owning property in the state) and self-righteous rage-- especially from those who never fought in the battles. The soldiers actually did better with accepting that each side had done what they believed they had to do. 

An example of Southern thinking is Robert E. Lee, condemned by some in today's rage. He had been offered command of the Union forces by Lincoln, but he had to refuse because Virginia, his state had gone with the Confederacy. Lee didn't believe in slavery or secession, but he believed in his people, country and state-- and to him that country was the South once it seceded-- something it felt Constitutionally that it had the right to do. Of course, Lincoln interpreted the Constitution otherwise. He was not willing to see the dissolution of the United States under his watch-- no matter how many lives it cost. In the end, he paid for it with his own. Although Lincoln did not personally believe in slavery, it was not the reason he went to war.

I knew when I wrote the book that some would not like a hero who fought for the South. I didn't expect the brouhaha that arose. Oh well, the November book, where the hero is mentally disadvantaged, likely will have some irked at it too. Try finding politically correct words regarding that for today and work for 1901-- now that got interesting...

Going Home eBook is available for pre-order at Amazon  and other sites at D2D for delivery September 21, 2015,. On sale for $2.99 until 9/22/15. The paperback will likely be out shortly after the 21st.


Tabor said...

Our language is so flexible that it is hard to make sure we write what we mean. I am proudof your god research and honesty in trying to deal with this. I am also amazed that after minority celebrities, sports heroes, political leaders, medical experts, famous scientists...we still cannot see beyond skin color. But I do admit that I am a bit prejudice when I meet a white fat guy with a southern accent and slow talk, until I get to know him.

Rain Trueax said...

Some of that though, Tabor, is experience *just joking, of course*.

I've been amazed at a lot recently... You just get to thinking we, as a people, have gotten past a lot of this and then there it all is again.