This has been a whirl-wind of a week. After quite a few misunderstandings, Mom finally came home from the hospital on Monday afternoon. She will have a home health nurse visit her 2-3 times a week, physical therapist to come 2-3 times a week and occupational therapist to come 1-2 times a week. In addition, we have hired one of my ex-students to stay with her during the night for the next week or so. She is insecure about getting up in the middle of the night, and this will certainly give her some peace of mind.
Once I got Mom settled, I had to start thinking about packing and preparing for our mini-getaway this weekend. Yesterday was our 28th wedding anniversary (am I really that old?!) and while we could not afford to do much, we did want to celebrate in a small way. If all goes as planned, we left on Thursday afternoon and drove about five hours to St. Louis where we had dinner on “The Hill” — the Italian neighborhood. We woke early on Friday morning to visit the zoo (and hopefully try out some photography skills), and then after a quick lunch we headed toward Chicago. Saturday morning was to be spent at the Art Institute followed by a deep dish pizza at Giordanno’s. We were uncertain of the evening plans. Today we were hoping to visit the Shedd Aquarium in the morning – again, uncertain of afternoon plans – but heads toward Dyersville, IA by early evening. Tomorrow we hope to visit the Field of Dreams set (I absolutely LOVE that movie) and then head home by way of Ames, Iowa (cute little college town). While the vacation is not at all exotic, I am really looking forward to it.
Last week’s TSS yielded several comments from you that basically encouraged me to review the books that I read — not to worry about the limited appeal or the writing style. I must say that Margot hit the nail on the head when she surmised that the English teacher in me feels the need to write the “perfect” review. While I have been trying to shed that perfectionist persona — old habits are hard to break.
Today I thought I would ease into this “imperfect” body and write some very quick reviews of the novels I have read as “research” for my own story; however once I started writing this post, I realized that it was going to be way too long to hold anyone’s attention. So…..I thought I would give you the story’s background today, and save the mini-reviews for tomorrow.
This entire project is a huge lesson in letting go of perfection and just enjoy the journey. I have always liked writing non-fiction, particularly research papers, but fiction has seemed like a huge leap into the abyss. However, since I have consented to teach a creative writing class this fall (my co-teacher has since resigned from the school and moved to Texas — so I will now be teaching the class solo), I think that I should experience writing a twelve chapter novel, since that is what I will be expecting my students to do. I suppose I want to try to dispel the myth, “those who can’t do – teach” and instead replace it with “I can do, and choose to teach”
So, here is the background to my story. I have known since February that I would be attempting this project, and at that time I thought I had a story ready to develop. It was going to be a fictional story based on a thirty second scene that I witnessed about ten years ago at my daughter’s junior high. While I still think this is a viable story idea, and one I might pursue later, I wasn’t quite sure that it would fit within the curriculum’s parameters of an “adventure” novel; it was more a character driven novel with deep thematic overtones.
Then one day an idea just came to me. I’m not sure how, or why, or when, but I was immediately struck with the overwhelming feeling that this is the story I am supposed to write. What is even more bizarre is that this story could be categorized as a YA historical fiction, time travel novel. Why is this bizarre? Because I never read historical fiction and the realist in me does not enjoy the concept of time travel (in fact, I never really understand it and feel rather stupid as a result). And yet….the more I research this time period (Paris, France circa 1880 among the Impressionist painters, particularly Degas, Renoir, and Cassatt) the more interested I become.
My novel will focus on a 15-year-old American girl on vacation with her family in Paris. She is fond of the theater and hopes to one day perform in the Broadway production of Phantom of the Opera. While deciding what to do on their first day in Paris, Phoebe wishes to go to the Paris Opera House, while her father insists they visit the Musee d’Orsay. My protagonist is typically moody and pouts the entire morning. While looking at some of the Impressionist art she comes across the Degas painting, The Ballet Rehearsal on Stage. Phoebe closes her eyes and tries to imagine herself on that famous stage. When she opens them —- well, you guessed it — she is there. Her primary adventure will be to find her way back to the 21st Century, but she will have to experience several other smaller adventures while doing that (those have not yet been revealed to me, but I am hoping that once I start writing, the story will begin to take shape).
The teacher in me wants to have some educational element to the story, so I am thinking that each chapter title will be the name of a famous painting from that time period. And the episodic adventure will be based on the painting’s subject. For example, Degas painted pictures of the ballet, cafe-singers, horse races, and the circus. There must be some adventure that Phoebe can experience at each of these locales, right?
So…there is my story idea, now shared with the entire world wide web. I hope it doesn’t sound too lame.