Authoring

Dear Liza,

From 2016 until last spring, I worked just about every day on a story that I wanted to be published, printed, and used in the local schools. I had plans for this story. It was going places.




It was a fictionalized history of Portland in 1903, and to make the history correct and interesting, I researched everything from the conditions of children working in fish packing plants to the layout of elementary schools. I created some characters I really liked, and a few that were loathsome.

And then, last February, I just stopped. It was like a brain fever broke and I didn’t need to do that anymore. Now that I’ve had some time to think about it, there were a few factors involved.

Children, 1903
  1. My favorite character idolized President Teddy Roosevelt. The more I learned about Teddy’s racism and imperialist views, the less I wanted this character to admire him. Since that was central to his motivation, it sort of fell apart.
  2. I realized that for a really dramatic story, terrible things have to happen to my characters. I don’t like to even think of terrible things happening to children, much less write about them.
  3. I realized that it was the research, the hunting of details, that I loved the most. The writing of the story was secondary.
House from 1903

Also, since I have lived here in Portland, I have met a few people who have published their stories. The books are well-written, well- researched, and entertaining. But the folks say that their experience with the publishing industry was miserable, frustrating, and made them pretty much zero income. So why go there?

Ego? That would be just sad. Wealth? I’m comfortable, thanks. Fame and fortune? Nope.

But I still have this research, these interesting bits of history and trivia of life back then. How to share them without publishers? Well, maybe you’re looking at it.

Online publishing is a popular venue, costs next to nothing, and demands fewer compromises. And it seems to be just about as profitable as print publishing (that is, not at all.) So maybe I will go back to my notebooks, find the best bits from my research, and put them in this blog.

Watch this space!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Looking Forward

Dear Liza,

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New Beginnings

It is the New Year, when we are supposed to make resolutions and plans for the future. Last year was so unexpectedly eventful and wonderful that I am almost tempted to just ride along. But I realize that as in story writing, life planning is good.

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Making Sense of Things…

Sometimes I made decisions on faith. When I decided to retire, my first worry was “What will I do with my time?” Then I remembered that my dad, (who was even a busier person than I), retired to Lompoc and found his life even fuller than before. So we decided to move to Portland and retire, knowing “something would come up.”

And it did. My interest in Portland history became a rabbit hole I kept going deeper into, until I knew enough about the world of 1903 that I wanted to populate it with my characters. For over a year now, I have written and read, researched and plotted. And the story is approaching … whatever it is that stories approach.

All that said, one of my goals for this year is to show my story to folks who know both writing and history better than I do, and get their advice. Then I plan to find an agent here in Portland who will help me get the story published and into the hands of Portland third and fourth graders.

Where stories go

There, I said it, right out loud. Now I’ve got to DO it.

Another thing I want to do this year is get to know Portland neighborhoods better. This will take a combination of planning and serendipity, both of which have served me well this year. Just getting on a bus or train and getting off where it looks interesting has put me in wonderful places.

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St. John’s, just North

I think these two things, writing and wandering, along with taking care of Auntie Bridgett and Grandpa Nelson, and helping Auntie Katie when I can, will keep me busy.

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My People

I hope you have a wonderful new year, and I will see you in the Spring!!

Love,

Grandma Judy