Be ruthless about protecting writing days, i.e., do not cave in to endless requests to have "essential" and "long overdue" meetings on those days. The funny thing is that, although writing has been my actual job for several years now, I still seem to have to fight for time in which to do it. Some people do not seem to grasp that I still have to sit down in peace and write the books, apparently believing that they pop up like mushrooms without my connivance. I must therefore guard the time allotted to writing as a Hungarian Horntail guards its firstborn egg.
Among the research, I found a book called THE LAND OF SADDLEBAGS, which was a reference to Kentucky’s early lack of ‘good’ roads. Roads and streams, I learned, defined ‘civilization’. As the early Romans knew, and as our modern military folk know, road-building was and is a major part of conquering a land. Migration needs roads of some sort.
To verify this, follow the old Warrior’s Path, which followed roughly along streams from far north in Canada to the southern tip of Florida. It was a trader’s path: the lifeblood supplier of rare and often necessary goods on which adjoining economies swung captive. Other trade routes intersected it in various places, so that goods from as far as Montana or even the Pacific’s shores have been found among grave goods in archeological digs in the region where I now live. Lacking the burden beasts of European introduction or reintroduction, most of the goods found transportation via canoe or raft – over easily traveled water routes. Fiber goods (fabrics, rope, etc.), artistic goods, exotic (to an area) foods, weapons components, and much, much more changed hands often in the hands of daring traders who risked life and limb for the joy of the trade and for the sheer adventure of the lifestyle.
From the much-troubled lands of Scotland and Ireland, from Germany and England’s wild reaches, from the native peoples and those storm-wracked by the sea, the westbound migration found its heart and soul. As I came to write in my in-progress novel manuscript:
“There has always been a song in the hearts of my people, and of my peoples' ancestors. From sea to shining sea and beyond those great salt waters, the song has changed and grown. The soul of flute and bagpipe twine in the strings of an old fiddle, pain and joy are like birth and death: inseparable, each of them whole only when conjoined. I would have it no other way.”
“I hear my grandmother's voice in my ear, sometimes, like a whisper of leaves, a light, soft pattering of foxes' feet. I smell memories of her ways when cornbread rises golden in the pan, or a pot of strong coffee steams ready. I can feel her work-toughened hands on mine, knowing and calloused, when I walk among the trees and see their varied bark in the flicker of morning storm-light. Here, I too have come for solace. I cleanse my soul in these waters the mountains give freely, I come where I know home will always be as I touch the hard soil that gave me roots, that which still keeps the corn, the squash, and the beans growing for the next generation.”
Yes, I am a dreamer. I do not deny it nor apologize for it.