Thursday, November 05, 2009

Notes-Page One

I was just sitting on top of the sheets, sipping my tea, not working, waiting for everyone to head off to school and work before I got to work and was reading a post on Editorial Ass ( an Editors Assistant's anonymous blog) about word count and found an interesting comment from Heather Lane, that made me curious about her blog- Edited to Within an Inch of My Life- where she had a great idea that I am going to steal, borrow, give her total credit for but also do! Blog the journey of the  novel I am writing in my spare time, when my real job of freelance illustrating allows ( I actually have gotten pretty good on making the time). This is kind of an "A-Ha" moment for me, I have been documenting my journey in illustrating for years here on Moonflower Musing, and loving the interaction of others, the encouragement of others ( thank you for that- you can't know how many times, knowing one stranger out in cyberspace, saw value in what I am doing, kept me going- ), but some how my writing, maybe because I have an art degree and see myself as not having the credentials to write, did my writing in the dark of the night to speak- who knows. But what hit me this morning, reading Heather's blog, is the journey is really interesting- the research- which there is no way I can use it all, hated that- but  daaaaaaa, I have a blog and can throw it up here, for anyone who wants to know and here is a place I can record the journey, the frustrations and the "A'ha" moments.
So here goes!!

Disclaimer: Some of you reading this are going to go- "What happened to the novel  set in Utah during World War 2!" well.........It got too big and too scary and I started to think I didn't have enough skill YET to write it the way it needed to be- so I'm backing off on it and doing an easier story first ( I will write Moonflower I promise, when I figure out how to do it)
I wrote Come Back to My Valley as a screenplay- which I decided I wanted to write as a novel first so that my take on the story could be saved for posterity whether I sold it as a screenplay or not.
Then I was doing a writing workshop and the teacher encouraged me to pick of the Utah story and put a side the screenplay story- ahhhhh how we are influenced- good or bad from others!
Wise or not- I am going back to my first story- already set in a 120 page 3rd draft screenplay- and turning it into a novel first.

Enough Already- what is the picture about!

Answer: Mesa Verde, set in Southwest Colorado, where the first serious archaeological excavations were ever, Ever conducted in the United State- I am sure some would argue!- by Gustaf Nordenskoild and the Wetherill brothers, a bunch of cowpokes from the valleys below the mesa.
The events of the summer of 1891- spurred on the movement to use the newly developing National Park system for the first time protect Human artifacts, not just natural wonders, in 1906,  but that way to late to protect much of the artifacts up in the mesa where many upstanding people would go to church and then go do an afternoon of pot hunting- or grave robbing.
( side note- if you have not seen Ken Burns' documentary on the National Parks which just aired on PBS, I highly recommend it)
Nordenskoild was the first to document and use scientific method to study the ruins, people did start paying attention to him when he tried to take his collection to Sweden ( largely due to the fact no American Museum, including the Smithsonian was much interested in ancient people on the North American continent)  and the events were  the catalyst for the creation of the Antiquities Act- which did start to protect the ancient Native civilizations in the US.
Thus is the backdrop for my novel- Nordenskoild and the Wetherills minor secondary characters to a romance between a cowboy and am aristocratic young artist who comes to paint the beauty of the ruins, the canyons and mesa.
Tell you more later!


  1. Julia--Your blog is fascinating. It's a shame that the U.S. was so cavalier about preserving our past.

    Thank you for the kind words about my blog. I love your A-ha moment, and am humbled to have been a part of it--see the universe does work in mysterious ways.

    I love the idea of posting your research--it's really interesting, and I can't wait to read more of it. And you'll always have it suspended here in cyber-space. It's how I use my blog too--all those links to things in the Internet that I would lose otherwise.

    Your novel sounds compelling. My writing partner started out writing screenplays, and turned one of them into a novel this past year. Once his blog is up and running, I'll connect you two.

  2. Thanks Heather- I look forward to reading your journey as well!

  3. Julia, I can so relate to what you say about the artist as writer. It seems like the artist's job is to "see". Like Georgia O'Keefe said "Nobody see a flower really, because it takes time to see, the way it takes time to have a friend." And William Carlos Williams said that his sole job as a writer is "to listen".

    I've been to these ruins, or some very like them when I was ten. From Robinson Ranch in Utah, a guide took us by horseback on a long ride crossing streams etc. I found arrow heads and little bitty ears of corn in the outlying midden. I had no concept of disturbing the past, I was being a kid who saw curious stuff laying about on the ground.

  4. Richard- We have gotten to the kind of ruins you describe, with our kids, they are the most exciting ones- the ones off the beaten paths-we carefully climb through them, let our kids pick shards ( broken pieces of pots up) and then we are done, they lay everything on rocks for others to see, some times these out of the way ruins are the most protected becuase of the attititudes of those who make the journey to see them!

    Unfortunately there is blatant robbing still going on as I talked about in,with little respect for these ancient people.