It’s a long thread but interesting. The term “maroon” comes from the Spanish meaning, “untamed.” It is not, as one might think, a reference to skin color. In my historic fiction manuscript, three characters run away to a maroon community in Cane Creek. This was a real place in the swamps west of Charleston.
Tag Archives: historic fiction
Feb 23, 23 Haiku
No school. No plows. White
streets with slush below. Curbs
in hiding. Take care!
It’s a good day to sit by the fire and read. I’m half way through “The Dictionary of Lost Words.” It started with a fey voice that I found a tad off-putting and at times the whole word-grabbing is predictable as a storytelling device, but the novel has hooked me. That means the author is doing a lot of things right.
Editing as whittling
We are getting rain. The painters stayed home today, but yesterday as I sat upstairs in my writing chair, a man worked on a ladder directly out the window. He chatted on his phone, Spanish providing him privacy since I don’t know a word. But how I worried about him, scaling the ladder with one hand, or gripping the phone with his neck and shoulder while balancing two stories up!
In today’s blessed quiet, I’ve been editing, determined to get my word count below 140,000. Deb would scoff and maybe my paid editor would too. But a lower word count would be more appealing to the average agent. Or so I’ve heard.
Couple years back — before Covid so it feels like another lifetime — Deb visited and invited me as a guest to a writer’s conference where she was the keynote speaker. Talk at the table turned to word count.
“For a debut author, anything over 90,000 is a no-no,” one writer said. Others agreed. (Deb’s speech was amazing BTW — part humor, part wise advice).
Well, I’m not gonna even get down to 120,000, but you have to admit that our minds respond differently to 141,800 than to 139,800.
And I did it! Gonna keep going because I have a new appreciation for where I can carve. Mostly I’ll go to the Eliza chapters because she thinks too much and can be flowery in her speech. Snip. Snip.
Look who has settled into his big blue bed on this rainy day! Finn usually spends the morning downstairs while I write, only traipsing up here when my husband delivers a second cup of coffee. My zoom-mates know to expect them.
I didn’t manage to bustle out the door for a walk this morning. It feels like a day to cocoon.
Cocooning is a luxury, a laziness, and a way to preserve health. I don’t know how to think about it anymore. All this isolation, even partnered and filled with canine company, might be getting to me.
It might also be a good day to whittle down the pile of papers next to the computer. Already a clipboard of novel-related notes surfaced.
A clipboard! Gawd.
On the top page clipped to that clipboard, I found a quote that feels relevant to today, to our time: “Grief … is a form of moral intelligence and even wisdom.” Terry Patten, A New Republic of the Heart.
Scene Post Rebellion — 1739
From the drafts file. July 2020. A deleted chapter followed by two paragraphs about the news.
Place: west of Wappoo Plantation, South Carolina where Eliza Lucas lived before she married Charles Pinckney in 1744.
Time: October 1739. Roughly a month after the rebellion later known as the Stono Slave Rebellion, named for the river running through the landscape of fervent hope and violent loss.
Character: Mo. An enslaved man from Wappoo.
This chapter is duplicative of others so won’t be included in my novel, whose working title has gone from Blood and Indigo to The Weight of Cloth. I often write a scene six different ways before landing on a keeper and even then, might make major changes. I don’t think this is unusual.
He stood at the crossroads ashy with fatigue. Was he even still alive? Time had gone sideways. Nights sleeping in the scrub, days making a meandering path first away, and now back. Back to what? The rebellion wasn’t just a fever dream of freedom, was it? Mo remembered the weight of Commissioner Gibbs’s head in his hands. He looked down at his tunic, saw the confirming blood. What happened to those who didn’t melt away into the shadows like he had? He did not know but had a hunch. He had a hunch that most of those brave rebels were dead and not just because hounds are ruthless and native trackers precise, but because sometimes at dawn or as the sunset and the clouds bruised purple, he could feel their spirits like butterfly wings on his cheek or shoulder. They wandered still, in other words, still seeking a way out of bondage but without a body to hold them back anymore.
Mo was rail thin. This time of year there were hickory nuts, bracken ferns, and sour plums but not much else. He’d gone from a wild and ferocious hunger that left no room for other thoughts, not even of Binah’s sly smile, to having no hunger at all, the thought of hominy nearly enough to make him wretch.
That dawn, something about the way the wind spoke to him through the chestnut trees told him that it was at last time to return home, if he could call it that.
*. *. *.
July 2020. I know I promised a rant, but one that wrestles with how to speak up as a white person, and when, and what that might sound like just cannot be published the day after George Floyd’s memorial.
I watched much of the eulogy by Reverend Al Sharpton yesterday — did you? Powerfully moving, as was Kamala Harris’s seven minute statement to the Senate about Rand Paul’s idiotic attempt to limit her and Cory Gardner and Tim Scott’s bill to make lynching a federal crime.