Okay, here it is. Deep down inside I'm not quite as confident as I sounded in my last post about the upcoming Muskoka Novel Marathon. At least not a hundred percent. The reason for this has more to do with feeling somewhat disconnected from the project I hope to write. In the past, my approach was to be completely immersed in my fictional world by the time I arrived at the venue. My shift in plan this year is uncomfortable, but--when I stop and think about it--that's the point. How will I ever discover new and wonderful ways to express my stories if I'm not willing to face the challenge of growing pains?
Supportive Husband suggested I accompany him to Black Creek Pioneer Village. (Great website, BTW!) The idea of emersing myself into a historical period close to the one I'm hoping to capture seemed like a great idea, so yesterday we packed a backpack and headed for an adventure into the past.
Now, had we thought about the timing, we might have guessed that this is high season for school trips. Not long after we visited the tinsmith's shop, which is stop #1, the village was overrun with children. Yes, this proved somewhat annoying, but I was there with a purpose. I looked past the teachers and other adults who seemed to miss many teachable moments when it came to behaviour... Besides, the kids were just being kids. They represent my potential audience!
Several of the folks working in the village were eager to share their knowledge and answer questions. Once they found out I intend to work on an historical novel, I received unexpected offers of assistance that went above and beyond. It was exciting to be surrounded by folks as excited about the past as I am. And the offer to come back for a tour of their research library is one I will not pass up.
Near the end of our walk, we encountered about thirty children all dressed in period clothing. I stopped and asked a small group of girls the reason. Creating an outfit from the early 1800's was part of their big history project for the year. My respect and admiration for their teacher somehow made up for the other adults' apparent lack of enthusiasm.
It was a day filled with surprises. The most important was the reminder that writers sometimes need to get out! From this point forward, whenever time and access allow, I will visit locations and exhibits directly related to any research I'm doing for a story. It's one thing to build a world inside the imagination. That--generally speaking--I've mastered. But there is nothing in the world like being there, looking around and experiencing the energy and atmosphere from the outside in.