Thursday, October 13, 2011

How land insinuates itself into my work

My NaBlo posts are in the form of letters to my journal about my revision process. Along the way, I'll include Home-Made Revision Workshop posts, and my Friday Challenges.

an aside: the photo from yesterday was not mine - it is by a Dutch guy who's name I couldn't fathom on his all Dutch site. He said it was OK to use it though - I'm being mega careful these days when people are so lah-di-dah about taking other's work. I'll try and find it and the link today. I need to look at photos as it is has been a long time since I was at the place I'm writing about. eek.

Dear Journal,
Yesterday I got one chapter done. I'm pleased though, because I had a very busy day. And I didn't use my hard-copy journal. No, I didn't. I did think about things and I have lots of ideas, but they are just ruminating around with the images and delight of reading more Sharon Butala. Now, I really want to go to the location.
Journal, I have a question for you or my subconscious. Why did my protagonist leave the delightful Nova Scotia location I know so well - near where I've lived for the past 35 years? What is it that I needed to work out here? To give you some context, I am an Air Force brat. I was born not too far from the area I'm writing about, in gorgeous Medicine Hat, Alberta. But we only lived there until I was two or maybe even younger. Then it was on to Rivers, Manitoba; Edmonton, Alberta; Osgoode and Ottawa, Ontario ; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Oakville, Ontario; and back to Ottawa. We didn't even go back to Alberta except to drive a few times to British Columbia. We would go to Manitoba but that isn't as far west. But still, that rolling prairie is in my blood. Both my parents are Manitobans - Manitoba is more farm, less ranch, though my Mum's mother was a ranch-wife in her second marriage. Yep, my grandma married a cowboy! Yeehaw! When I was a grown woman, my second husband and I moved from Nova Scotia to Vancouver Island, British Columbia. For the years I was there, he and I would ramble in the truck through the mountains, camping and hiking. We didn't go as far as the area I'm writing about - though Nelson, BC, also figures in this novel and we went there a number of times, and even considered moving there. 
I seriously tried to get my protagonist to stay in Nova Scotia but she is even more stubborn than me, and so insisted on moving to Alberta less than half-way through the book. And before that, she visited for a couple of chapters. I felt bad that I was writing about a place that I don't know that well, and about the Blackfoot which I know not at all, except through writings and research.  I say felt instead of feel because I don't feel that way any more. I've given in to her desire to be on that land - the land becomes a very important part of the story. 
Because of a reversal of fortune in our lives, my guy and I won't be travelling to Paris and Basque this spring - perhaps I can somehow get a grant to travel to Alberta. Any ideas out there?
And now, I must get to work. I'll give you a photo I took of the prairies near where my Dad grew up.


Bish Denham said...

That is a totally stunning photo!

Jan Morrison said...

Thanks Bish, I painted it in oils a few years back but without the cows! They were too much for me. I remember how curious they were when my sister, Jude, and I approached to take the photo!

GigglesandGuns said...

I thought the photo was a tourist post card. Good job.

lissa said...

characters and location always somehow go together or the one effects the other, though I'm not very good with writing about locations.

great photo.