Well, it seems my Charleston trip has suddenly been cut short. My mother is going into the hospital for a test that requires her to be knocked out for a while. Obviously she’ll be too loopy to drive and take care of my diabetic father who just had a stroke a while back, so I’m leaving my beloved Charleston tomorrow morning at first light for Monroe. (12-14 hour drive). Then I’ll spend the night there, wash some clothes and be off to Oklahoma sometime Wednesday. I’ll take Mother to the doctor for this inpatient business, spend the night, make sure she’s okay, and then be back on my way back to Monroe on Friday. Ah, the duties (and as Jong says, “the perils”) of primogeniture.
I plan on returning Friday because this Saturday I have some out of town band business I must attend to in Mississippi, so I’ll have a short drive and will spend the night in a hotel. Must figure out how I can contact my friends in the area so we can get together for a couple of hours. I’ve learned that while traveling there’s no guarrantee of having wireless service, thus I can’t promise when I’ll post on my blog again. I still have much I want to say about my Charleston trip.
Fort Sumter II
When we docked at the island fort, after receiving behavior from the rangers, we disembarked. I meandered through the fort, poking my head through the gun-holes and sighting down the barrel toward the detained Egyptian ship we had passed. I know the detained Egyptian sailors on board may be pissed, for they are truly victims of legal issues beyond their control, but imagine how the hundreds of arrested Northerners felt during the War Between the States when Lincoln suspended the right of Habeas Corpus. (Shades of Patriot Laws!) He really did that. In all, Lincoln arrested about 13,000 IN THE NORTH under martial law. It seems he was not open-minded about some things. I think 200 of them were newspaper editors who criticized him. Here
Here is the first draft of a new poem I wrote this trip.
Allusions . . .
Points of reference to the past
To literature and art, to people and places.
Allusions are essential to create meaning,
Enhancing symbolism, setting a tone or theme,
Some are obtuse, literary dead ends,
Others are ambiguous,
Subject to supposition, requiring
Knowledge or investigation of the source
To feel or understand their purpose.
Women are like good books,
Full of complex allusions,
Requiring a close, and
Sometimes, a second reading.
Yesterday, I saw a stream,
A collage of beautiful women
I found a parking lot near the Charleston aquarium and walked to the Fort Sumter National Monument. I purchased my fourteen-dollar ticket and strolled through the facility. I was pleasantly surprised to find a quote of Abraham Lincoln clearly stating his racial prejudice. It must be puzzling to recent generations who have incorrectly been taught that prejudice existed only in the South and did not exist in the North. And from Saint Lincoln, of all people! Well, I digress
Yesterday morning I rose at 6 am and drove to Folly Island. I was looking for a place to metal detect, but I found none
Tonight, I’m in Charleston, SC. I lived here 1987-88. It’s my favorite city in the whole world. My hotel tonight is a Day’s Inn on Montague in North Charleston. I would have posted last night in Conyers GA, but either the Holiday Inn’s wireless service was not compatible with my iBook, or I just have much to learn about MACmatics and technical issues. I did call the hotel tech service for help, but he was unable to explain why I couldn’t connect. I’m sure it’s something simple I’m missing. Just another case of my ignorance showing. I’ve made a resolution to learn more about MACs and wireless, as it seems I’ll be traveling a good bit this next year.
Back to Charleston: The last time I was here was for the funeral of the Hunley crew. I need to record a blog entry on that event and get some pics up. I’ve missed this city–the smell of the marsh, the ocean, the beach, the palm trees and giant oaks, the plantation houses and museums. Tomorrow, I plan on visiting Folly Island, perhaps looking for some Civil War relics with my metal detector. I also want to see the battery–that part of Charleston is the most beautiful city in the world to me and is the epitome of the South. The houses in that old part of Charleston, are truly (and by design) hurricane resistant. I think Charleston is a tough city. Even weeks of Yankee bombardment couldn’t conquer Charleston during the Civil War. I have a huge framed photo of Charleston in my study. It was a gift from a friend I loved greatly. Sometimes I look at that photo and I crave living in Charleston again. A part of me wants to say, “You don’t have to go back to Louisiana. Just stay here and write.” It’s tempting.
In a few minutes, I’m going to look through the hotel’s phonebook and some tourist books I collected on my way here. Perhaps I’ll find some bookstores to pitch my book, Stories of the Confederate South. I’ll at least resurrect some memories, perhaps some ghosts. I think a writer could do well in Charleston. Certainly, there would be no shortage of writing ideas here. But I don’t think it’s ideas I need. I just need to make myself sit down longer and write more.
It seems interest in Stories of the Confederate South is increasing. I’m on my way to Oklahoma, and it looks like a busy week promoting my new collection of short stories. I’ve got a TV interview Tuesday on KXII in Sherman Texas, an interview on a local radio station in Durant, Oklahoma, then a two-day signing (July 14-15) at Roby’s Hallmark also in Durant. I had such great success when I was there a few years ago with my first novel. I’m confident I will sell a lot of books. By the way, I have an order form I’ve made that meets Booklocker’s standards. It gives the bookstores quick reference information. Make it easy on stores to order your books. If you write me, (firstname.lastname@example.org) I’ll send it to you so you can have a model to promote your own books.
After I return from Oklahoma either late Saturday or Sunday, I have a radio interview in Monroe, Louisiana, then a signing at the Lincoln Parish library in Ruston, Tuesday night, July 18, at 6:30. I’m picking up more business cards and setting up orders and a signing at the Ouchita Parish library on my way out of town this morning.
Sometimes I cringe at the amount of work and shamelessness required to promote one’s work, but I’ve read enough biographies of writers to know that I’m not alone in this. For example, Presently, I’m reading Erica Jong’s The Devil at Large, about Henry Miller. He’s an examplel of how self-promotion can pay off. Anyway, if you have any interest at all in Henry Miller, I’d encourage you to read that book.
I just finished reading the English Patient. I know–I’m late getting to it. At least my “to read” list is one shorter. I enjoyed it tremendously. As a writer, I was most intrigued by how he presented the men who explored, mapped, and were devoured by the desert. I like fiction like this–the book was sensual, engaging, and the researched details fascinating. I think Ondaatie’s acknowledgements is the finest model of how to do that I’ve seen. In short, it was a read that moved me and informed me. That makes for good fiction.
My next nonfiction book has a working title of The Civil War Writer with 100 Story Starters for the Fiction Writer. The idea came about as a result of my research for my collection of short stories, Stories of the Confederate South. You can see the link to the book on this page. The book should be of great benefit to anyone who likes to write historical fiction. The main sections will include: Why the Civil War appeals to readers, some common pitfalls to avoid in writing about the Civil War, how to do research on the Civil War, a glossary, and of course, the stoy ideas themselves. I have been a collector of stories, anecdotes, and facts (some of them VERY unusual, thus lending themselves to writing some unique fiction about them). Hopefully, I will have it completed sometime this summer. One of the true values of fiction is that it speaks to the heart and to human experience. There was so much emotion before, during, and after the War Between the States that I don’t think we’ll ever get it all down. I know I’ve collected so stories I’ll never get to, and perhaps the b ook will help some writers. I do know that they are stories that need to be told, and that they are stories waiting to be written.