Camp Chase Soldier Statue Toppled

Is it is surreal that I wrote a story about a Confederate soldier released from Columbus, Ohio’s Camp Chase prison camp given current events. I learned just now on Facebook that the cemetery I visited back in June, with mixed feelings I might add, had its soldier statue toppled.

What’s ironic about the Camp Chase cemetery and the existence of this statue at all is that it was raised by Union officer William H. Knauss, who led the first memorial and later wrote a book about the prison. His intent was to honor these Confederate prison fatalities as Americans, not Confederates, as labeled on the arch. Since Columbus has the largest Confederate cemetery outside of the former Confederate States of America, one might take a cynical view to Knauss’s efforts.

Was he just trying to make money? Did he want the fame and glory of a book tour? It doesn’t seem like it… he raised money to renovate the cemetery, to put walls around it, and to invite those with Union and Confederate leanings to remember that which made the United States a singular rather than plural noun.

That said, glorifying a piece of the past is quite dangerous. If there are statues depicting Confederate officers, then there should also be statues depicting the slavery they fought to protect. And not the minstrel song and dance slaves, but those which depict liberation. If the point is to “remember our history,” then let’s remember history holistically.

It’s a semantic quibble to argue whether the American Civil War was about slavery or states’ rights. The Confederate government went to war with the Federal government for their right to determine whether slavery was legal or not, which does, in essence, make the war about slavery.

Lest we forget, a number of the statues toppled so far were built during the heydey of Jim Crow laws and the anti-Civil Rights era to act as reminders that people died to keep slavery around, and that there are generations of families who might, if pushed, do so again.

It is time we reevaluate how we pay homage and how we hope future generations interpret such symbols of homage.

Lucky 7 Excerpt from my Young Adult Civil War manuscript

letter-writingThere has been a “Lucky 7” excerpt writing meme spreading across the interwebs since 2012 if my cursory Google search is accurate. I thought it would be fun to share some of my progress.

In case you don’t know, the rules of the Lucky 7 meme are:

  1. Go to page 7 or 77 in your current manuscript.
  2. Go to line 7.
  3. Copy down the next seven lines as they are – no cheating.
  4. Tag 7 other authors.

Now, I’m nowhere near page 77 of my manuscript, so it’ll have to be page 7. These memes always make me nervous… what if they select a part of the book that’s kind of, well, boring? I suppose the idea is to open your eyes as a writer and make every page in your book compelling.

Anyway, here is my Page 7 line 7 excerpt from my young adult Victorian fiction, without preamble or context:

He opened his eyes in time to see wide skirts sweeping from the room. That confirmed it. He wasn’t at Camp Chase. The only woman allowed in the prison had died a few months ago of the very disease she had been helping her doctor husband fight.

Waking up away from Camp Chase should have brought him some relief, but that woman’s harsh accent filled him with dread. He had never heard anyone speak like that before, not even in the prison. Was he with friends, or simply in a smaller, more lavish prison?

“He’s awake?” he heard a younger voice from down the hall, most likely Alina. Whereas the older woman sounded annoyed, Alina sounded excited. “Have you spoken with him? Can we keep him?”

I don’t have seven writers to tag, so please forgive me. I’d love to see excerpts from:

  1.  Drew Farnsworth
  2. Caitlin O’Sullivan
  3. Eliza Wyatt
  4. Evangeline Holland

Using Evernote as my Distributed Brain

With the restart of the latest WIP, I’ve been using Evernote to collect research about living in 1864 Columbus, OH during and right after Lincoln’s death. As convenient as it is, I kinda miss the old way of doing research.

Once upon a time, I ran to the library to grab all the books on a topic. I filled paper journals with notes to reference when I couldn’t remember a clothing detail etc. It got a bit unwieldy the more mobile my life became. I have a  bin of research for Catching the Rose, which I wrote back in high school, so my research methods weren’t quite so methodical and clean. I filled two paper journals of notes for Haunting Miss Trentwood, covering transportation, clothing, the rise of the “independent woman” in 1880s England, and even English law.

For this new untitled Work-in-progress, I’m trying something different: Evernote.

evernote

Evernote is nice because it allows me to “clip” interesting paragraphs, images, and other online research. It captures the URL for me, so I can go back and build my bibliography without fear of missing something. And, best of all, it provides tagging and searching capabilities! When I’m trying to remember just who tried to bust all those Confederates out of the Lake Erie-based Johnson’s Island prison, I can do it easily.

So it works for my mobile life of bouncing around town writing in different locations per my schedule and availability. I can look something up on my phone, which is awesome, but actual collecting of materials is best on a laptop. And it’s making a sorted bibliography super easy to create!

evernote-bibliography

I’ll try to do a better job sharing some of the things I’ve been learning, whether that particular research detail makes it into the book or not. In terms of progress, I’ve written two-and-a-half chapters and it’s felt like pulling teeth, but at least it’s progress!

Best,
Belinda

Eight Months at a Dry Well

Last night I wrote for the first time since September 2012. That’s eight months of no writing. I was afraid I was going to hit a year. What writing I did back in September felt like pulling teeth, and I gave up until the feeling to write would come back.

I had no idea it would take eight months. Eight months of worrying why I wasn’t writing. Eight months of reading writer’s block buster articles. Eight months of reading research books about the location I thought I wanted to write about. Eight months of voicing frustrations to The Boy that I had lost my muse. Eight months of slight depression.

I tried to continue blogging, thinking writing non-fiction was better than not writing at all. But as you can tell by my pathetic archive, that only lasted a couple more months.

Writing againLast night I took the advice of a commenter and watched Shakespeare in Love for the first time. I was watching The Boy’s dogs while he met with his dance partner, having just gorged myself on homemade Chinese hot pot. The movie ended. I stared at my writing journal on my abandoned desk, which I had moved to my living room in the desperate attempt to remind myself to write.

That bright green cover with the bright blue ribbon filled with lined, unwritten pages no longer seemed so scary. I grabbed a pen and put it to paper. I wrote three pages, enough to be a decent first draft of a first chapter.

I don’t know if it’s still The Rebel’s Touch anymore. It’s not set in southern Ohio on the banks of the Ohio River. It’s in Columbus, my home city, on the banks of the Scioto. The main character has just discovered a dirty, emaciated man who just told her something that makes her think he escaped from Camp Chase, the Ohio prison for Confederates. Other than that, Abraham Lincoln has just died.

That’s really all I know. But it’s enough.

Best,
Belinda