Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Art of Plugging Away - Part 5

This is where I tell you that all is well.
Now that the novel is complete. Oh wait, that's not true. IT ISN'T.
That was a lie, or what I'm telling myself.

The first draft of a very complicated work-in-progress is COMPLETE. But that doesn't mean the work IS DONE.

Remember I spoke of the Dreaded Second Draft? Well, now that I'm in this phase, historical research and the sense of place is what I am trying to accomplish.

Regional accents, dialects, the details of daily life during the Great Depression, how law enforcement worked with local vice squads and morality committees is new information to me.

There was segregated housing (homeless shelters and 'poor houses' weren't immune) by race and by gender: sorry 21st-Century Folks! 'Shacking up' was a definite No-No in the 1930s, and a landlady/landlord could evict a tenant on such grounds!
Especially if said tenant's partner/lover was caught in the apartment, and during after-hours, when everyone was suppose to be asleep!

The realization I came to: that no matter this misguided notion that I missed some crucial details while living in New York City (I left at nine, so there was nothing to be done about it), there would have been no possible way I could recreate a New York of the past!
Even if I wrote a story in recent years, my New York City of the 1980s is long gone!
Once I came to this sort of thinking, that is what freed me.

Another, more concrete, reason I came to this decision was from David Nasaw, the history professor-cum-author of the book "The Patriarch", a leaner accuracy of who the Kennedy patriarch was like: as a man, a father, a husband, and as a human being.

He explained that, and I am paraphrasing the good Dr. Nasaw, no matter what point in history one chooses to write it, trying to recreate the past as a writer is like going to a fantasy land.
In other words, what does a historian and historical fiction writer have in common with a fantasy writer? Everything!

The past is a nebulous thing. It can never be touched, even by those who lived in that time, ever again.

Now with that thought in mind, I will continue the story.


  1. Writing a period piece seems like hard work but fun as well. Best of luck with the upcoming drafts!

    1. Thank you! I hope that the fun I feel writing it will translate into it being fun for readers!