I think one of the least talked-about trials of a writer is figuring out which WIP to actually work on. I’ve been intending to work on Picture of the Past (PoP) for the last three weeks, but in reality, I’ve mostly worked on some research. . . and Drawn Into Love. This week, though, I am really going to crack down on it.
Perhaps part of the issue is that I finished editing the first page of PoP last week, and it was SO BAD, that I’m scared to continue. I had no idea I had progressed in my writing skills so much in three years – I think it has been three years since I touched it? Anyway. So now I’m terrified of how much work it will actually be to rewrite.
The research aspect, however, has been fascinating.
- Did you know that in the late 1850s, as women moved to hoopskirts, people were applauding that time as being a time in which women were being given freedom in their clothing, with much more ease to move around that before?
- Did you know that there were strong religious opinions on men being allowed to shave?
- I read a book written by a man who went on the California Trail (Crossing the Plains, Days of ’57) – while he recounted horrible massacres and difficulties that he more or less witnessed, he emphasized both how drawings depicting the crossing in the early 1900s weren’t at all realistic and couldn’t possibly show terrible parts of it were. But he also emphasized that no one in the party ever quarreled or complained and cheerfully accepted their lot. Meanwhile, I am now reading a book based purely on women’s perspectives of the trail (Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey), and they talk a lot about men quarreling, and all the disagreements, and how cranky everyone gets. I find the different perspectives both enlightening and hilarious. Granted, the man may have been traveling in an unusually cheery company, or the author of the women’s perspective might purposefully be pulling out only negative accounts. . . but it has still been a fascinating look into history.
- Occasionally, in fiction, I run into references of women wearing “bloomers” and other women either thinking it very inappropriate or wishing they were daring enough to do so. While I’m sure both those perspectives have truth to them, so far, in the Women’s diaries books, I’ve only run into commentary that other women couldn’t afford them because they were the latest fashion and/or that some refused to wear them because they were trying to hold onto as many of their feminine virtues as possible since, on the trail, they were forced to perform many chores that would normally be left to men. Again–fascinating various perspectives.
And that’s all for now, folks! Though if any of you have run into interesting historical tidbits while researching for a book, I always love hearing them!