WRITING THROUGH THE FOG

In a previous post I wrote about how often life gets in the way of our well-laid plans. Of course there is no way to predict what is going to happen on any particular day, but it sure would be nice to have a magic amulet that would glow red for stop and green for go! We enter into each day head first, with a list of all the things we hope to accomplish. Paramount on that list for me is usually to produce either a bit of art or write a few pages or chapters on whatever I’m working on. That doesn’t always happen, and my good intentions drop by the wayside. My dog, Milly, a Border Collie/Lab cross, is staring at me, giving me “the look”, which indicates she is waiting for me to take her down to the Santa Fe River and allow her to plop in the middle of the flow and let the soothing cool waters soak into her thick fur.  She wasn’t always so willing to plop on her own, more interested in walking along the edge and occasionally putting her paws in the water. With a bit of cajoling, she was finally sure enough of herself to jump right in, lay down in the water and sit a while. This part of the river is not deep, and it reminds me that not all of my writing has to venture into deep water. I too can stay along the edge, do what I can that day, and perhaps in a moment of clarity I will be able to jump right in and float my way to progress.

Although early in the year I had intended to work on the fifth book in the Jemimah Hodge mystery series, Return to the Shadows, I was pulled in the direction of a historical romance I had been working on for more than ten years.  Not seriously making a daily effort, but it was always in the back of my mind that I would like to finish it, if not for my readers, but for myself. The book has had many titles and has taken many forms, and finally a few months ago the writing became more cohesive and I was drawn into developing the final form this book would take. Magdalena and the Perilous Journey is a fictional historical romance based on fact, and is based on a subject close to my heart because I began my research when, at fifty, I started college and chose this as the subject of my Bachelor’s thesis. The Pueblo Revolt occurred in Santa Fe and  the outlying areas in 1680. By today’s standards, it was a pretty horrible confrontation between hostile Indians and the Spaniards who had settled in the area. Much has been written about these events but the most fascinating fact was that the revolt was planned in such secrecy that it caught everyone by surprise. Yes, I’m sure many innocent people were massacred on both sides, but the whole event served as a means to an end. I took the liberty of introducing fictional characters to the mix, a young girl who migrated from Mexico City with her family in order to serve the uncle who was to become the Governor of the territory around Santa Fe. It was a challenge to create the dialogue necessary to write both sides of the story. Little has been written about the Pueblo side of the story, but New Mexican archives are filled with material regarding the Spaniards’ experience.  My book  is a love story developed through the uncertainty of war, a story which I am sure has been repeated many times through history.  It took a lot of effort to not allow myself to be one-sided. I am pleased with the final outcome and happy to put the task of writing it behind me.

Lately I have brought back my focus to writing that fifth mystery! That too is a challenge.  I am not the kind of writer who can sit down in front of the computer for hours and churn out dialogue.  I am an artist first, and like many of my carvings, I have to first formulate the plan, block out all the excess, fine tune the features, sand it down to smoothness, add a layer of background and then add a bunch of color.  That is where I’m at at the moment. Over forty thousand words and now I’m adding the color.

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