Before I turn that big corner, I’ll have to look both ways.
Twenty years ago, on the evening before my fortieth birthday, I wrote a little cathartic something for myself. Something about “anything goes,” how I might dye my hair purple, get boobs, a tattoo, spit when I want to. In these past twenty years, I did one of those things. And before you wonder too hard, I’m not a spitter. I’m not good at it and don’t have a hankering to learn now.
So, I’m at the corner. To my left is the past, my right, the future.
Obviously, unless I live to be 121 years old, there is much more to see on my left, sixty years worth.
I was very fortunate to have loving parents and a sister, five and a half years older. I often tell her it’s one of the many things I love about her. She’s been every age before me and can tell me what it’s like.
Am I being overly sensitive?
Yes. But sixty? It’s so hard to believe.
I know when that big day comes a few days from now (not just my birthday but early voting day in Texas), I will settle peacefully into a new decade.
But what will I see? Do? How many more novels live inside of me that beg to be allowed in public?
How many empty canvases can I fill with paint and like the result?
When will I have to stop boxing? (pads and bags, not people)
Mostly, I wonder, what will I learn?
That’s the exciting part.
Sometimes, I want to return to the years when my children were young. The fun we had at parks, reading stories, making up stories, and endless other happy times. I loved watching them grow.
I smile now after typing that last sentence. They are adults and I still love watching them grow. And each of my two children have given me a grandchild. I will watch them grow too, just not for quite as long. It’s okay. Because now it’s my children and grandchildren’s turn to experience that joy.
And that thought makes me smile like the birth of a new baby.
It’s the circle of life. And it’s beautiful.
Have a listen while you read!
As a Texan, I have no problem understanding southern dialect and the slang words and phrases that go with it. But what if you are writing in a different time period? What changes?
In 1928 rural Texas, eleven year old Emma June understands words like “fixin’ to” and “fair to middling”. And she knows what it means to be Cooter Browned. But does she know the terms blotto or hoary-eyed, spifficated?
So when and how does the slang of the 20’s hit her isolated town? From newspapers? The radio? City transplants?
That’s what hit me while writing my current novel.
Let’s say her father saunters into the washroom. Is he bleeding his lizard (Texas) or ironing his shoelaces (Jazz term)?
If a woman dresses to the nines, is she ritzy or wearing her best bib and tucker? (Women’s fashion stays relatively consistent)
I WANTED TO USE JAZZY TERMS, Dagnabbit!
So thirteen year old Frank moves from New Orleans to Holly Gap, Texas. He made it possible to use both- Texas and Jazz Age Slang.
Now, everything’s Jake and I’m sitting in tall cotton!
The Moonshine Thicket, coming soon.
Jazz Age slang : home.earthlink.net/~dlarkins/slang-pg.htm
More Texan-isms https://shar.es/1xYMnH via @texasmonthly
Here’s a great video of how dialect changes by area: https://youtu.be/mNqY6ftqGq0
… And helps with historical treatment.
I hated history in my youth. But now? I love research. It takes my mind to places that existed long before and can exist again in a historical novel.
The Library of Congress – Historical Newspapers – can take you back to the late 1800’s. I needed 1901 so I found myself in good shape (except I spent hours upon hours finding interesting articles that had nothing to do with my MS, The Last Bordello.) Once I focused, ALL these articles played a pivotal role in my plot line. (I had many more, these are just a few.)
Let’s start with the secondary, still-important, characters and work our way down to Madam Fannie Porter.
If you are writing historical fiction, The Library of Congress is a great place to start!