progress report

So I haven't told you about our Mad Men dinner last Sunday (photos, too!), or the trip to Orlando for Scholastic Book Fairs (fabulous! and more photos!), and here I am, ten days later, bumping up against a trip to Norfolk, Virginia tomorrow, to work with teachers, so I don't know when I'll catch you up. But you'll be proud of me. I've spent the entire week in this pink chair (covered with an old quilt for summer comfort), next to the cold fireplace, STEEPED, I tell you, STEEPED in 1964 Freedom Summer and Book Two of the Sixties Trilogy.
I have barely come up for air. These are the days when I must remember to eat, bathe, converse, those days of long, long hours with a story, trying to keep it together, of-a-piece, when it seems so unwieldy, and when so much is unknown.

Let me say that again: so much is unknown. oy vey.

And, as much as this place is frustrating, it is also thrilling -- thrilling. I'm making connections left and right, up and down, over and under. I'm scrambling to keep up with them, I'm shouting A-HA! and grinning with delight. I'm groaning and tearing my hair out. I'm moving forward, back, stalled, forward again.  I go to bed thinking about the story, and I wake up with inklings, phrases, full sentences waiting for me. I leap out of bed to capture them.

This morning's sentence: "I am in love with Thor Heyedahl and I want to set sail on Kon-Tiki."


BUT. I have learned to be ever-faithful to these gifts that float up from the subconscious. I wrote that sentence down. Let's see what happens.

In the meantime, I suit up and show up. Here I am, at the page. I am beginning to understand my story. I take notes and put them right into the manuscript, at this stage. It's similar to how I work with notebooks and is perhaps the evolution or next stage of that.

Perhaps I'll be brave enough to share that process with you soon. I want you to meet Sunny. She's twelve, and she's nothing short of amazing. I'm not sure she's in love with Thor Heyerdahl (I was), but she makes me laugh, and that counts for a lot.

Happy Weekend, y'all. Stay cool. Don't know how it is where you are, but Hotlanta is earning its nickname this summer.


  1. A few more books to put on your list:
    Charles Payne's I've Got the Light of Freedom
    John Dittmer's Local People
    Emilye Crosby's A Little Taste of Freedom: The Black Freedom Struggle in Claiborne County, MS
    Bloody Lowndes by Hasan Kwame Jeffries

  2. Thanks, Sarah. I've got the first two on your list and a slew of others (you know how it is; you just keep collecting), and will look for the last two. I'm most interested in Sunflower, Neshoba, and Leflore County stories right now, but everything is good.

  3. Shaking my silver pom-poms in your general direction!

  4. Just to show you that i look carefully at these photos you post; we have the EXACT same cell phone. Love you, girlfriend. Keep pluggin'.

  5. It says that "Steve" said the last comment, but it is really ME, Steve's beloved. xoxox Jan

  6. Oh, how I'm loving your misery! :-) I'm with you all the way on the process, suffering beside you. Although, I'll confess, the suffering is beginning to ease as the magic begins to happen. I love that part of the process - when some little piece of magics floats down onto your paper. My WIP has turned into MULTIPLE VIEWPOINTS - including omniscient, which I thought I didn't even like. Yesterday a little brown dog showed up in somebody's barn and a boy named Mutt, who is a liar.

    Now if this whole dang thing would CONNECT somehow.

    Thanks for sharing. Your misery sounds much more intellectual than mine.

  7. Barbara, I'm waiting for the magic. Not yet. Slog, slog, slog! So much slog. I'm awful happy for Sarah's pom poms. And I'm glad your book is beginning to take off, multiple viewpoints and all. Yikes. I'm afraid I might have two viewpoints, actually... and I hope not. Back to it!


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