StorageMojo’s novel distraction

by Robin Harris on Friday, 23 February, 2018

Time has a way of speeding by, a fact I was reminded of when I looked at my last post and saw it has been 3 months since I’ve added anything to StorageMojo.

What gives?

Well, StorageMojo gave. I’ve been busy with ZDNet, but that’s nothing new, as I’ve been posting there for a decade (talk about time flying!).

I also consult, and have been especially busy since October, including work on a potential startup. My routine has also been disrupted since July by my recent move – all of 100 yards, but still – and getting settled in.

The big time sink
But the main distraction is that I’ve been working on a novel. Set in the dystopian past of the antebellum South, it concerns the life of an enslaved woman on the plantation of one of South Carolina’s wealthiest and powerful men. It’s historical fiction, meaning the main characters were real people, and the plot follows actual events.

Of course, enslaved women left few records of their lives, since teaching slaves to read and write was illegal. Fortunately, the last 20+ years has seen some excellent scholarship that draws on a wide range of sources, from the WPA’s collected narratives of former slaves, to the memoirs of Southern ladies, court records, newspaper accounts, and more.

I’m using the works of historians – and my active imagination – to try to create a more realistic view of plantation life than is commonly portrayed in popular media. So yes, there’s some grim moments, because slavery. The research has blown up more than one of my misconceptions about the “peculiar institution” and for that alone I’m thankful.

Pilgrim’s progress
The novel is up over 75,000 words, with probably 25,000 words to go. I’m sharing chapters with several writers groups here, and the work has been well received.

So my plan is to release the early chapters as audio files – read by the author! – here by mid-2018, to get feedback from StorageMojo’s discerning audience. I’ll warn readers that this is NOT what you’ve come to expect from StorageMojo, but I hope it will find favor among those interested in a story based on real events, or stuck in traffic on 101.

The StorageMojo take
However the novel proceeds, I’ve been having a blast writing this for the last two+ years. And in about 6 weeks I’m heading to South Carolina to visit the plantation where the people I write about lived. It’s amazing what a help the internet has been, but there’s no substitute for placing events in their physical setting.

So I apologize to readers that I’ve stepped away from StorageMojo for this while, but I hope at least some of you will agree that this project, when you hear it, was worth the detour. After that, it’s back to StorageMojo’s regularly unscheduled programming!

Courteous comments welcome, of course.

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