Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Dangerous Journey

Gold mine
Originally uploaded by ˙Cаvin 〄
I’ve been toying recently with the idea of writing a historical romance. Most people who know me and the kind of stories I usually write would be surprised. I love high-tech adventure, cop dramas, and contemporary romance. But mystery, danger, bravery in the face of insurmountable odds...these are all things that perfectly describe a trip west during the time of the Gold Rush. I began to wonder if there was a story, my kind of story, hidden in the dusty photographs my History Major husband had on his desk.

I started to research, which really is one of my favorite things about constructing a story. I've sifted through diaries from women who made the westward journey as wives, daughters, and mothers. I never knew the quiet strength these women possessed. How it must have been to sell everything you couldn’t carry, load up a wagon with your children and the remnants of your home, and journey through a rough and unforgiving terrain.

Many sent home letters to anxious family back east or in places like Missouri, a jumping off point for the Oregon Trail. Photographs, new at the time, were secured as soon as a photographer was located to send home as proof of well being and prosperity. Often families clung to the photographs they brought with them as remnants of their life left behind.

I learned about cooking with lard and dried fruit on open flames or makeshift ovens. I learned about women that took in wash to help keep their families afloat. Heartache, triumph, uncertainty and devotion to family…these are the sentiments I took away from these women. I started to warm up to the idea of a story about this time period, this place in history, and my typing fingers started to twitch. Hmmmm….

After all, I live in California…CALIFORNIA, the bosom of the Gold Rush. I visited Placerville and saw the remnants of mines and camps and began to see characters in the midst of all the dust and old wood… interesting. I think I’m hooked.

My question to you is this: When in your life have you set off for something new and unknown? Have you ever contemplated something so unusual for you that it made that little nerve under your eye twitch? How did it turn out? I’d love to hear about you. Until then, my friends, you are on my heart and in my prayers.

1 comment:

Carlos said...

Congratulations on thinking outside your comfort zone! That is something that not a lot of people (especially writers) can do very successfully (as I demonstrate by laying down a blanket generalization that I refuse to think my way around). Sticking with this new genre, have you ever thought of incorporating actual scenarios from the computer game 'Oregon Trail'? Think about it, your character's oxen could starve or freeze to death. She could get dysentery or break a wagon wheel. You may even want to throw a few blank pages in there that just have the word 'Loading...' typed in the middle of them into the mix. As far as the whole eye-twitching thing goes, that usually only happens to me during family get-togethers or when I'm trying to create a statistical analysis of data using only Excel. I hope the book turns out the way you want (at least do the wagon wheel thing), and I can't wait to read it! -CF