What if I get it wrong?

Among the many titles I like to give myself (quietly and mostly when thinking to myself) is “historian.”  History has been a passion of mine for my entire life.  As a kid I would create projects that focused on history.  Throughout school, if I were given the chance, I would turn my assignments towards historical topics.  I read historical-fiction, and historical non-fiction like mad.  I ended up with a BA in history, and an MA in religion — with a thesis focused on a historical figure.  And I have now been accepted in another graduate program, where I will pursue an MA in History (starting this fall).  I dream that, someday, I’ll have a Doctorate in History, that I’ll work in a museum or as a history professor, or perhaps a historical consultant or… the possibilities seem nearly endless.

Hey!  Look!  A historic marker... can we stop a minute?
Hey! Look! A historic marker… can we stop a minute?

I have driven my family crazy with requests to pull over for every roadside “this event happened here” sign that I could find, and have structured entire vacations around historical topics.  Sure, I have my favorite eras, locations and people, but to be honest I have yet to find a historical person, place, or thing, that I haven’t been happy to explore.

And I love to research.  To find more resources that I can use, more information.  I peruse bibliographies for fun, and love detailed footnotes that lead me to all sorts of other, passingly related, topics.  I have the ability to lose hours wandering through the internet, or library, or whatever resource may be on hand, gathering links, or titles, or anything else to “look into later.”

But I have this fear that has kept me from writing historical fiction.  Even though there are some stories that I think may belong as historical fiction, and others that I would like to write, I find myself stalling out in the face of the possibility that I will get it wrong.  That I will not be able to rid myself of modern slang and modern sensibilities enough to write a character and scenario that is realistic.  That I will make a mistake and, gasp, someone will call me on it.

It’s horrifying.  Seriously.
And I know that I have to get past this block if I want to write historical fiction.  I have to be willing to make mistakes – and trust that I can ask other researchers to help check my work.  I’m doing that for a number of projects.  I’ve been asking a friend who actually knows about sword-fighting to help me with research/resources so I can write a more realistic sword-fighting scene in my fantasy novel (not that it would be hard to get better than the current text: “she watched as he [does something that makes it clear that he’s no good at sword fighting, yup]…”), for example.

And perhaps this is reflective of a larger fear.  I hate to say it’s a fear of being wrong (because I know that I am wrong at times, just how often probably depends highly on who you ask), but perhaps a fear of being unable to capture a sense of true authenticity.  I would hate to pour so much time and energy into something and then have it pulled apart because the facts didn’t add up.  I worry about this enough when I am writing in a fantasy world and dealing with something I don’t know a lot about (like earlier-mentioned sword fighting, or farming, or royal court etiquette).  And in fantasy stories I can always have an escape-route… argue that this is the way it works in this land.

But in history, I can’t do that.  What happens if I include some turn-of-phrase that wouldn’t have been in use?  Or have someone referring to something that hadn’t happened yet?  Or I just can’t stay true to the historical sensibilities?

And how do I go about overcoming this fear?  That is the real question.  How do I find a way to be willing to make mistakes, to trust that my editing process (and my research) will help me keep from making (at least glaring) errors?  And how do I let go of the sense of needing to be right and not making a mistake?

IWSG badge

 This is my monthly post as part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group -- I am very much looking forward to being a part of this community!
Advertisements

Disparate Threads – Into The Horizon

And today it begins!

The Disparate Threads blog went live this weekend, with the first story segment (previously posted on this blog) already up.  And today begins our regular updates.  Each will be posted here, but I encourage you to visit (and follow) the Disparate Threads blog to explore more!


 

After a long journey, Ayerlla found her feet resting on the edge of a great cliff. Similar to the one she had left, though that momentous step now seemed so long ago. A lifetime ago, in the most literal sense.

This cliff towered above the water. Anchored to nothing, it was simply a part of the sky. The storm still churned in the distance; rolling clouds filled with murky colors, heavy with moisture and swirling winds. Simply waiting. The pressure was in the air, but Ayrella got the sense that the storm would continue to wait. Everything, it seemed, was waiting. She just wasn’t sure what it was waiting for.

Standing there, looking back towards where she had come from, Ayrella could feel the years lifting off of her. Through her time in Kirshenelle she had worked hard to ensure that she aged just right, just as those around her did, so as to not call suspicion. But now, back on the edge of the Horizon Lands, she felt those years fade away. It had not been many changes, so subtle that many would not even notice them, but had she not made the changes there would have been comments and Ayrella had striven to be very cautious. Little wrinkles around her eyes and mouth. The slightest lightening of her hair, a precursor to turning gray. All of that fell away now, fading as though they had never been.

But she knew that the years still carried in her heart.

She walked slowly and carefully, the feeling of early dawns mist on her feet. Down through the field towards the city, each step cautious and deliberate. Ayrella felt her breath catch in her throat as she approached the city, this gathering of buildings, each exquisite in its own unique way. Each reflecting the Revered Being Continue reading Disparate Threads – Into The Horizon

Opening the Writing Floodgates

To get started, let’s loosen up.  Let’s unlock the mind.  Today, take twenty minutes to free-write.  And don’t think about what you’ll write.  Just write.
And for your first twist?  Publish this stream-of-consciousness post on your blog.

And thus begins my involvement in Writing 101.  The only thing I did do was go through a quick spell-check (because no one needs to suffer through my creative-spelling more than necessary).  Otherwise, unfiltered, stream-of-consciousness Allison.


I am a sucker for taking on more than I should.  I think I’ve mentioned this before, but really I find that the more I have on my plate the more productive I am.  I think some of it has to do with the idea that the more I have to do the more I am aware of just how important my time is.

There are limits to this of course.  I have, more than once in my life, hit points where my body begins to rebel.  It starts to yell at me, with subtle signs at first, and then more and more insistent, telling me it is time to step back, to take a break, to give myself a rest.  In the past five or so years I’ve begun to learn these signs, and in the past three or so, I’ve learned to actually start to listen to them.

writing-101-june-2014-class-badge-2But those signs haven’t started up yet, so it is perfectly reasonable for me to pile more on my plate, right?  And that is what I’m doing, sort of, but signing up for Writing 101, through the Daily Post.   The plan, at least, my hope, is to use the prompts we’re given, the task of trying to write daily, to really get myself in the daily writing practice — and perhaps be able to piggy-back a daily editing practice onto that.

Because I have ridiculous goals that I want to meet, things I Continue reading Opening the Writing Floodgates

My Dream Reader

As promised, I am working my way through some of the “Zero to Hero” assignments, at my own meandering pace.  Because, truly, that’s how I like to do things… at my own pace and in my own time.  Sometimes that time is super-speed, fast-track.  And sometimes it’s like moving in slow-motion, through marshmallow fluff, on the moon.  And more often than not it is in some order that makes sense to me, even if not to the rest of the world.  So, today I am jumping in on the Blogging 101 “Zero to Hero” Assignment Day 6.

Writing for my Dream Reader.
Hmm… Continue reading My Dream Reader

Excitement fueled editing!

Yay! The Disparate Threads blog is ready to go, and open for viewing! Untitled2 - CopyBeen making tweaks here and there, and have gone ahead and put up the first story segment, since I’ve shared it here and it seems unfair to have that be my first update.  So… instead… here it is!  With the next few weeks lined up and ready, by posting this now maybe I can get myself to focus on getting even more of it lined up and ready….

Wheee~

Round-Up!

Every time I heard the phrase “Round-Up”  I think of the “Kindergarten Roundup,”  an event I remember being held in order to introduce incoming Kindergarten students to their new school.

Which is pretty irrelevant, other than the fact that I am gathering together an assorted group of … something.

Respect for Other Tribal Cultures – is a great post by Oskar Hokeah (on an excellent blog) that got me thinking about the questions we ask of those and that which is outside of our norms.

I’ve been trying to explore my Social Media presence, and thinking a lot about how to best manage it and utilize it.  And fitting well with that theme, Elizabeth at the Daily Post did a good segment around using Twitter Lists — something I had just learned about, and really need to take advantage of!

Margaret Fuller, I remember learning some about her in one of my history classes, and making note that I wanted to learn more.  And this recent post on “the becoming radical”  just re-invigorated me to learn more and to read some of her work.

And in the trend of people I have encountered in my studies and made note to read more of, and learn more about is Montaigne.  And then, another post over on The Daily Post, this one by Ben Huberman caught my attention, and I have yet another historical figure to re-visit.

Finally, You Are Not Your Rejections is  a nice reflection by Karelia Stetz-Waters over on PDXX Collective.  A reflection on the nature of Rejection Letters, and writing… I love the tone of this article, and it’s a very good message to keep in mind.

Happy Browsing!

A bit of this, a bit of that, the meandering thoughts of a dreamer.

%d bloggers like this: