The Tale of a Novel (Cherokee Home)

An artist’s craft does not come from their own mind, but rather from somewhere indescribable.  Authors often talk about when inspiration hits, the dishes pile up, things get set aside, and they just write before it leaves them.  Writers certainly incorporate their own experiences and their own knowledge.  Writers will double check dates, facts, history, making sure that everything works together.  But the writer will be surprised and delighted as they actually jot the story down on paper or wildly type to keep up.

Ever since I received a spiral notebook for Christmas in 1984, I have been writing.  Inspiration and the Beyond have been good to me this year.  Three books in one year.  (I am smidge exhausted!), including my very first novel which came out this last week.

Many times ideas will not wait for the writer.  If you don’t take advantage of the gift of inspiration, it will flit on to the next writer and it won’t be long before you see “your” idea in a bookstore near you.  I was lucky this one waited for me.

Two and a half years ago I sat in my apartment researching my genealogy looking for the names and tribes that my mentor had mentioned to me while we were working together.  Medicine people are usually quite clairvoyant and he had told me names and places of my Native American ancestors.  I found the name of the grandmother on the side that I knew was Cherokee (before I found the line on the other side as well) and pieced together her history.  Her son had killed himself while gathering corn for supper one evening around 1930.  His widow’s brother came from California to retrieve her and her three children, the youngest of which was my grandpa George.  I did not know he was born in Oklahoma.  In Chickasaw territory.  During the time when Natives were being killed for their land by the oil companies.  During the time that Cherokees were flocking to California, by force or by promises of riches, at that very time.

As family silence would have it, or I suppose most of the time families just don’t know, I will never really know what happened but a story so beautiful and thrilling filled my mind utilizing all the ceremonies and language and happenings of that era and swirling them into a fictional tale.  My love of Little House on the Prairie and of history came painting forth.  Several chapters too long and an unknown ending caused me to put it away.

Shyanne, my lovely daughter, was the only one that I let proofread it, and she inquired suddenly a few months ago about the book and where it was.  I decided to open it up and see if the inspiration was still there.  And to my great joy it was.  Having forgotten most of it by this time, I was enthralled as I read it.  Most of the latter chapters were scrapped, a new ending unfolded, and a smaller sized novel was created.  I love this book.  I am so thrilled to be the one to write it and bring it forth to the world to read.  It is based on true events because of the history of the time, most of the herbalist events were actually my own true stories, and the ceremonies and many memories of how things were are transposed from my friends’ tales to this book.  All caught together in a synonymous web of truth meeting mostly fiction.  It could be classified as either teen or adult fiction.  I think the prose would suit anyone and will certainly educate and entertain.

I am so pleased to present to you my first novel, Cherokee Home.

Click Here to see it on Amazon!

A Novel Breathes Life and the Wisdom of the Elders

fishing

My friends, you must read Big Magic by Liz Gilbert.  I keep referring to it.  I loved how it stated that genius lands on people, not people become geniuses.  An idea has its own entity, its own life and “lands” on willing recipients.  Sometimes a recipient isn’t ready for it and it goes to another person.  That is the reason we see books, movies, songs that we were going to write.  With this in mind, I asked for an idea to land on me.  I wrote snippets in California.  I asked every day for an idea.  And one landed on me last week.

I then sat in front of my computer, a first time novelist, trying to construct a “proper” novel setting.  Where do I insert dialogue?  How many adjectives should I use?  How do I set the pace?  I have been reading novels this month trying to see the map of it all.

When I do my work in herbalism, I just kind of zone out, so to speak, and do the work.  My hands move deftly to the right plants and combinations, and I can “see” easily.  If I were to overthink it, I wouldn’t get much done.  I went into that same zone and just started writing.  It was as if I were meeting the characters myself as they hopped from fingertips to screen.  “Oh, well, hello, nice to meet you!”  “Are you coming back at the end of the book?  How nice.”  The prose and which person I used to speak changes and surprises me.  I am not writing this book, it seems, I am just privy to how it is creating itself, much like my paintings, much like my recipes, much like my work as an herbalist, I am merely the middleman…woman.

The book starts in the nineteen thirties.  As I was visiting my grandparents yesterday I asked a few basic questions, like did they drink tea or coffee more?  Did many folks have cars?  I told them I was trying to research the Cherokee land disputes that took place in the 30’s due to land rushes and oil companies.  Turns out Grandpa remembers all about it.  Grandma and Grandpa took turns illustrating in real life the dust bowl, the depression, the locusts, the farming, history unveiling itself.  Many, many things we never learned in public schools.  I was fascinated, humbled, grateful.

dolls

These beautiful old dolls are among my grandmother’s.  As if my day couldn’t get any better, they were gifted to me.

Sometimes I fall into an irreconcilable sadness, wondering if we will ever get our own place, our own homestead, the city life here…I try to make the most of it.  I visit other’s farms, I try to save money (try being the key word), I cry.  It all seems so impossible.  But I can, at this moment, write….

The Great Novelist

Southern-belle-civil-war

My first attempts at writing fiction were as a pre-teen, huddled in my room with a spiral notebook and pen, scribbling away.  Two chapters of strained dialogue and always two girls in southern belle dresses and absolutely no plot, I would grow bored and go outside to play.

Freshmen year in high school I was writing a book about a girl who finds a baby.  The baby’s name is Emily (all my characters were named Emily) and the mother was of course in a southern belle gown and the first two chapters were only dialogue of some sort and my dear teacher said, “Why don’t you write about something you know.”  Something clicked and for twenty eight years hence that is what I write.  And write it well, I believe.  But in my heart I wish I could write a stunning, beautifully choreographed novel.

I am not entirely sure that I could write fiction.  A novel seems preposterous in the creation of worlds and dialogue and characters.  For just in life, I am chained to the truth.  The characters would end up being exact replicas of those in my real life and so at the beginning of said novel I would have to say “all characters are the imagination of the author and any resemblance is purely coincidental (sorry mom)” and the whole plot would read strangely like my blog, and somehow everyone would be wearing southern belle gowns.  I do believe I may be a firm non-fiction writer.  Fabulous, but oh I do wish I could dream up a scape of world complete with whimsy and easy dialogue and characters to remember.  I shall wait patiently for the idea to land upon me.  In the meantime I am dreaming up my next non-fiction farm book…complete with everyone wearing aprons.

Writing on the Chalk Board (novels, vineyards, and Cherokees)

Such an interesting interim.  I am surprised at how many people have told us about going through similar situations.  It is as if life just sporadically erases the chalk board so we can live a different life or a better one.

baby celt

We have been keeping ourselves busy with the Celtic Festival this weekend.  I bet I talked to a hundred people.  Where else would a hundred people stop and talk to me?  Only in Elbert County.  We are at a place now where we are writing down ideas, desires, questions, and dreams.  Where do we want to live?  We are considering Elbert County.  We are really considering the western slope of Colorado (vineyards and farms, y’all!).  That one was Doug’s idea.  The same distance away is Taos.  My dream.  But, I got vetoed again.  Doug really wants to stay in Colorado.  We want the kids near us.  Will they follow us?

“Will you be homeless for long?” one of my favorite vendors asked caringly.

“Oh, I wouldn’t think so,” was my reply.  No, Doug and I are not ready to choose a bridge design to live under.  We are far too ambitious for that.  But we don’t want to rush into anything.

family celt

My downfall is that I panic and we take the first place available.  That thus far has not worked out for us.  So, even though we have a general base of what we want that we agree on, we are listening.  A possible job offer came up for Doug but would he be happy there?  A homesteading couple has an idea for us we are discussing Monday.  We can manifest anything we want which is why we have to be careful what we wish for.  I manifested the opportunity to live in a shed on someone else’s land. (Remember that post?) Whoops.  This time we want a two story adobe house on a hundred acres!  We are listening to murmurs and whispers and contacts and choosing a path.

A man from one of the clans at the festival got an enchanted look on his face and walked towards me.

“I see a Cherokee Princess,” he said in all seriousness.

I was shocked.  “How did you know I was Cherokee?”

He said he was Cherokee as well.  I said that I noticed a lot of folks were Cherokee and Scottish/Irish.  He said that was because when the Scots came over to North Carolina and the east (my grandfather landed in 1716) they noticed that they had very similar religions as the Indians.  What folks consider Wiccan now was considered normal practice with the Celts, a deep reverence for the Earth, and symbols of things in nature matched up with the Native religions.  That made sense.  It is part of what my novel is about that I have been writing and filled me with a few more ideas.

Will I be the next JK Rowling?  Will Doug be a professional pool player?  Will we own a vineyard?  Will we….?

The Discombobulated Farmer

SAM_0483

I can’t seem to wake up at dawn anymore.  I hear a rooster crowing from down the street.  I hear my goat, Isabelle, yelling for food at her new home two blocks away.  I try to push the pit out of my stomach.  The heaviness will not lift.  I turn over and fall into listless sleep.  I find myself falling asleep in the car, crying suddenly, and feeling hopeless.  I guess I am experiencing a bit of depression.  Without a to-do list I feel bored and useless.  For the first time in my life I do not have a job that helps people.  I do not have a job at all.  I wonder if I fell off the face of the earth would anyone notice.  I am not feeling suicidal, just struggling with who I am without a purpose, a to-do list, a goal, a dream, a busy life.

We used to dream of these days.  We would read and write and walk and be on a kind of vacation.  However I am struggling with my own identity and fate and rewriting the chapters has proven more difficult than I imagined.  To be fair, it hasn’t been that long.  Perhaps I will fall into a gentle wave of security.  The characters in the novel I am working on introduce themselves and create themselves in times of silence.

We need to finish up at the house that destroyed me.  Giving all of my possessions away has been an interesting venture.  Folks that were in the very same situations as ours gather replacements for things they lost to give homesteading another go.  Our goal with the farm and homesteading school was to encourage folks to be more self reliant and to try homesteading.  And in a twist of fate our final chapter was to give people what they needed to set up shop.

For years Doug and I have given things away.  Given gifts.  Given medicines.  Helped people out.  Helped wherever we were needed but now that the tables are turned, so to speak, I find that it was easier to give then to receive.   To receive a blessing is to be humbled and thankful.

Our friends have opened their home to us and our cats.  As cat people they know that giving away our felines would be the final knife to me.  To lose my cats is unthinkable.  I struggle with feeling awkward in their home, with being in the way, with being a nuisance.  Rodney and Pat took us on a trip.  Monte and Erik took us out to dinner.  Kat and Rod bought us lunch and helped us move.  Sara helped us move the cats.  Kim and her family came and cleaned out the dreaded refrigerator at the near empty house.  Thank you.  It is not easy to be in need.

At a particular low point we pulled into the library and to my surprise my girls happened to be there.  Those three smiles can brighten my day.  Friends out of nowhere showed up and invited us to an event.  We have been visiting.  Grandma broke her knee and is recovering well in a rehab.  Thompson had a heart attack and two strokes.  He, too, will be alright and it was nice to visit him.  We saw our son, Andy, and his girlfriend yesterday.  Our schedule is free to reconnect and visit with folks.  I must open my eyes and see the blessings before me.  To humbly accept.  To be grateful.  To embrace this new path into the unknown.  To free myself of this heaviness and enjoy the greatest blessing, LIFE.