I'm most recently a writer. In the six plus decades of my life, I've been a wife, mother, grandmother, Jill of all trades though mistress of but a few, and most of the time pretty content with my lot. As a much younger person, I believed I was called to write, but life and living distracted me for most of those decades. An unwilling transplant from the South, twenty years ago I unintentionally landed in the geographical center of the US. Writing came about in part due to the unwillingness, I expect. When caring for family, gardening, and renovating a century-old house failed to provide sufficient creative outlets, I turned to the one thing I always intended to do. Eight titles later, I'm grateful I found myself while Lost in the Plains!
Monday, March 25, 2013
"Shannon's Daughter"--What We Know So Far
I'll begin with a little update, in case you want to keep track of the actual progress on the above- mentioned work. More and more, I think the working title will stick, so until further notice the book we're discussing is Shannon's Daughter. I've even done some thinking about the cover, but so far my search for potential royalty-free artwork has not produced anything close. But that's a long way from being a need, more just a curiosity at the moment. Let's see, I'm into Chapter Eleven now and up to the year 1952 (the year I was born, just as a matter of minor interest.) The story seems to fall naturally into sections, short periods of time, with the intervening years briefly summarized; and in each section, our main characters will meet, their relationship will shift somewhat and they will part with the hope of meeting again someday. Or that's what seems to be happening so far.
The work is frankly very different from any I've done before and much more intense. I've spent eight hours or more writing, actually putting words on the screen, for the past three days. That's far more than I've done in the past and admittedly limits any participation in the real world. But I'm so fascinated by these characters, I can't stop following them. In a previous post I told you a little about Kendall Gregg (The New Man in My Life), and I've discussed what I knew about Peg Shannon from previous books. It's Peg who is setting the pace now, for me and of course for Kendall, too. And let me tell you, this girl moves faster than a New York subway train!
Getting to know Peg is kind of like being a journalist assigned to trail someone, a celebrity or a politician maybe, to do a "day in the life" human interest piece for one of those big, glossy magazines sadly becoming extinct in this era of reality TV. Seeing her up close and in action through the eyes of a man who has more than a passing interest in her, I'm learning what a multi-layered, complex young woman she really is. I'm not sure it's fair to say I like her yet, but I find her compelling and someone I definitely want to know everything about.
If it were physically possible, I think I would write constantly until I reached The End, just to keep pace with Peg, to watch her mature and tell the full story of her relationships with Kendall and the other characters in her world. Unfortunately, she has an annoying habit of forcing me to stop and do a little research now and then--keeping me honest on period details and making sure I don't get too far from the reality of life in her generation. Thank heaven for Google and Wikipedia! They provide most of the details I need with just a few keystrokes and then I'm back to work. Occasionally I've had to turn to the books on our shelves, and I'm actually grateful to my husband for being such a hoarder of old textbooks and those incredibly pesky to pack and move Time-Life Series. I'm also thankful for the old movies I've watched countless times, which have filled my mind with images now proving useful as stage sets, props and costumes.
Realistically, I have to stop now and then to meet the needs of my fellas. They still expect a home-cooked meal at least once a day, and my cocker, Raleigh, feels I should spend a little time with him, too. Things like house-cleaning and laundry are going to be hasty if not down right neglected until I get enough of this down to catch up with the chapters already standing in line in my brain. I'm passing pages of rough draft to my husband and son as quickly as possible, just to get their invaluable feedback from a male perspective. Writing exclusively through the eyes of a man is new territory for me. (There's no "head-hopping" in this book. I still can't get direct access to Peg's thoughts, so the story is told from Kendall's vantage point.) My son returns his pages asking for more, which is definitely a boost to my writer's fragile ego. My husband said this morning, before I could make my typical plea for his impressions, "And yes, I like it!" In his role of casting director, he says currently Peg is more Natalie Wood and less the Rosalind Russell she will eventually become, whatever that means.
So that gives you some idea of what's happening with Shannon's Daughter. I don't want to slack on blog posts, so next time I'll try to find another topic. Maybe the fashions and habitats of the rich and famous in the middle of the last century? I'm chock full of that sort of fascinating trivia at the moment!