Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Meanwhile, on a raggedy ridgetop in eastern Kentucky...

I'm working on an old project  again, and this time with an eye to truly finishing it.  Unfortunately, due to some health problems, I've been doing more research than actual writing. That's about to change. When I do resume writing, I may disappear for a time.

When I'm writing, I'm immersed in the project to the point that it's hard for me to focus on the physical world. Everything rolls back, away, like waves prior to a tsunami. That's as it should be, whether it's nonfiction, a playful sort of fantasy, or science fiction. Any genre requires focus, and I do my best to put in the right ingredients, hoping for just the right recipe.

"Writer's block" is imaginary, in my opinion. If it's not working, it's not working. Your subconscious will rebel. This is why I generally keep several projects going at one time, just as I do with visual art. Varying the projects allows for fresh perspective and new awareness, not to mention leaving room for massive amounts of reading (mandatory... it's what got me here, after all).

Song of the Rain Crow, which this blog was named for, is based on numerous family stories and tales retold around the region where I grew up. Eastern Kentucky. Appalachia. I've been so involved in these stories for most of my life that it has shown up in my visual art as well. In the graphic below is a picture I painted, acrylic on canvas, of my maternal line great-great-great grandmother. Done from a tiny, ancient, faded photo that required quite a bit of digital manipulation to make visible, the painting was a shock to my mother, who immediately recognized Cynthie Baker. This ancestor appears in the story in several capacities; I used composite characters, of course, as it is a novel, a work of fiction. Yet this woman is the main inspiration for the story.

Yes, it's true:
“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.”
And so it is; this is my homeland.  It may not be rich or filled with professors of this or that, however, it has been traditionally a land of survivors, as well as warriors of their own path. 
“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.”
And so, though hard times haunt us, I will persevere. To do otherwise is not permitted by the past bred into heart, soul, and weary bones.

Please follow with me as I begin a new sort of life, presumably no longer young enough to be foolish. Let the words take us where they might lead.