There is really very little to say when the mercury hits -38 (and that’s fahrenheit for those of you in centigrade countries). The mind, like the body, stills, and focus or hysteria is there for the taking. There have been years when this annual cold spike has immobilized me. But this year it has induced concentrated effort.
What this concentration has wrought is a finishing up of the Joseph book. There’s still much to do, but the story has been roughed in and the voice and tone are clear.
This book has turned out to be a fairly closely observed, ground level recounting of the Nez Perce plight and flight. That is not what I set out to do, but I have warmed to that approach. If, in the last analysis, I have written a book that brings people to the story and engages them in a visceral, meaningful way, the approach will have been justified. If it ends up being a flat chronology, I will have betrayed my literary trust.
Right now I think I have a story, not a catalog or chronology. That’s what I’m hoping, because that’s what I do best. I am no historian, and I truly dislike having to put out alternative readings or qualifiers when I create a narrative. I just want folks to pick up the book and feel compelled to keep reading. I’m less concerned about what they know at the end of the book than what they have experienced. Facts you can always get; emotional involvement is more elusive.
So I’m spending about another week finishing up the draft, then my editor and I will work together to determine how to make the work ‘breathe’ through chapter divisions and headings. After that, I’ll reread the whole thing and put it in the hands of a few readers who are both honest and merciless. If they think I’ve told a story, I’m over the first hurdle.
This process will probably engage me for the next several weeks. During that time I may or may not feel inclined to do much blogging. I’m just not sure. But keep coming back. Fairly soon I’ll put a few pages of the book here on this website so you folks, too, can see what I’ve been up to for over three years.