Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Interview

TargetImage by wili_hybrid via FlickrSo I was reading this afternoon in NaNo for the New and the Insane, by Lazette Gifford (I'm planning on using NaNoWriMo this year to force a first draft), and she's talking about interviewing your characters. She includes a link to a cute mock interview that Valery Comer posted on Vision. That seemed cool.

Then this afternoon, Rebecca O'Connor posted a link to an essay she'd written for The Daily Rumpus, in which she describes sitting in her closet with the door shut and putting a (not loaded) gun in her mouth to see what it would be like.

I'm not willing to go that far.

But I have been chatting with Bill on and off this afternoon, in between sessions, and it's been fascinating. For one thing, he sits on the couch in my office leaning forward, with his elbows on his knees, hands lightly clasped between them. He looks at his hands when he talks, looking up from under heavier eyebrows than I'd thought he'd have. He has a complicated relationship with his father, Anderson, which I got some glimpses into. Anderson tends to be a bit critical, but respects Bill now because of his war service. And he reminded me that I do know what it is like to be shot at, and so I won't have to work as hard as I'd thought to imagine what it would be like going into battle.

Although technically I wasn't the one being shot at, I was close enough once for research purposes, thank you very much, and I remember afterward being surprised at the smallness of the space I had been able to hide in. So yeah. I think I can write pretty authoritatively about the urge to make oneself as small--not to say invisible--a target as possible.
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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Library Book Sale

lithograph of Sheridan's charge at Five Forks,...Image via WikipediaI really need to be getting my notes in order and my outlines into Scrivener (OneNote having proved to be a less-than-satisfactory platform for novel-writing) in preparation for NaNoWriMo, which I plan to use to get a jump-start on the writing. Instead, I'm still doing research. Today, my research activities took the form of scrounging for cheap resource books at the Cobb County Public Library's twice-a-year book sell-off cum fundraiser.

It took 3-1/2 hours to go through half (the non-fiction half) of the tables, and I was exhausted when I got home. But happy! I made out like a bandit. I got a little magazine-sized "book" called The Concise Illustrated History of the Civil War, mostly for the reproduction of Sheridan's charge at the Battle of Five Forks (not the one pictured here). I can well imagine what Brother Bill and his comrades must have felt like seeing that coming at them.

And Long's The Civil War Day by Day: An Almanac 1861-1865. Once I got it home I was kind of disappointed that it's not footnoted (although there is an extensive bibliography), but that was balanced out by my pleasure at the "Special Studies" section at the back, with short bits on desertion, disease, POWs, and the like.

But the pièce de résistance was Sam Abell's Distant Thunder: A Photographic Essay on the American Civil War. And to think, I almost missed it! I had already been around the barn once and was in line to check out, gazing about me, when I spotted a box labeled "History" under the "Arts" table (go figure). So I backed Tillie out of line and went to investigate, and there it was! The front cover photo is of the Wisconsin State Memorial at Vicksburg, in early morning (or early evening) fog, and it is stunning. Many of the photos are of reenactors, but never mind: It's a beautiful book.

I got these, and one just for fun--A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812, by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. I wish I could use her, but she's not only the wrong period, she's a Yank. The few pages I read made me think of Claire Frazier (protagonist of Gabaldon's Outlander series). I can't wait to read it!

All this for $5.50.
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