Sunday, December 19, 2010

December 19, 2010

My medieval Christmas music is still playing even though it is well past Thanksgiving and I can officially have modern Christmas music blaring. What could be more appropriate than to finally work on a Christmas themed story in Dahlquin? Last week at Monday Night writer’s group we did a writing prompt and I launched into the beginnings of just such a Yuletide tale.

I already know Eloise gives birth to her first daughter in December, what better Yuletide to commemorate? I know what music she would be listening to and singing and teaching her children. I’ll revisit the holiday celebrations of the period (always fun). But the stress, the conflict, the tension…what is at stake on every page, in every scene? Unlike her contemporary sisters whose holiday conflicts include searching for a parking space, hunting a ‘must have’ toy for her children, or the elusive perfect gift for her hard-to-shop-for father-in-law, nay, what confrontations must thirteenth century Eloise face to keep readers turning the pages.

Disease swept through the castle last winter, so plague is out. Rape, pillage and mayhem, not until Christmas day--no wait that is our house!

Her parents must be called away, to a dying sister north in the O’Connor’s lands. Roland, too, must leave mighty Dahlquin Castle during this most festive season, leaving Eloise rotund and physically vulnerable.

Never one to enjoy her ninth month incarceration, Eloise embraces her freedom forming a children’s choir, reciting Christmas stories and Yuletide tales, planning the banquets and feasts as the weather grows ever colder and the travel more perilous. Holding to the belief her mother will return in time to deliver this fourth child. Roland will find Val and both will be warmed and well fed through Twelfth Night.

With Eloise’s parents and husband absent, and her due to deliver any day, a mercenary force instigated by the opportunistic Scragmuirs lay siege upon Dahlquin Castle.

This is to be a short story. Short. Story. Requiring me to have a beginning, middle and end, a theme and a building story line with more and more at stake with every scene. A Scene Tracker and Plot Planner, with a viable yarn to spin.

Can I do this? Will I rise to the challenge as I know Eloise will? I better get started.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I had not planned for Pearl Harbor Day to be the theme of this blog post, but I felt so unpatriotic ignoring it I was compelled to write about it.

Actually, I remember Pearl Harbor Day every year, even when it is not printed on a calendar. (One Pearl Harbor Day I attended a surfing contest) I’m not sure why I’m so devoted to remembering the day. Perhaps it’s because I love history, or that I have seen the FDR footage so many times, or because “From Here to Eternity” left an indelible mark upon me. Or perhaps it’s because Pearl Harbor was a turning point in the 20th century for American and global history—the point when we entered World War II. Of course, my interest is enhanced by the wealth of film and photos that keep the events alive and potent. Literature and movies continue to build and perpetuate the stories of the war’s military and political giants as well as those of the common solider and civilian—stories that span continents. The Diary of Anne Frank and Patton are but two of thousands. Atonement, by Ian McEwan still speaks to the spiritual depth of those war years. Whatever the reasons, December 7 has always been a day I commemorate.

Is there a message in all this? Is there a reason I am compelled to remember this monumental day, perhaps, neglecting other infamous days of equally great significance? Born in 1955, I didn’t experience Pearl Harbor Day first-hand. For my generation, it’s not a landmark day like that of the Kennedy shooting, Woodstock or December 8, 1980, when John Lennon was murdered. But Pearl Harbor and WWII formed the days of my life—through media and politics—and that of the western world as I came to know it. To this day, I still view World War II as an epic battle between the forces of good and evil, dark and light, freedom and persecution, as opposed to other more ambiguous disasters that have plagued us nationally and globally.

This December 7 I will attend my Tuesday Afternoon Writer’s Group and my daughter will attend Grad Fest in preparation for her college commencement in May. My husband will see patients. But it won’t be just another Tuesday, because I will remind them it is a day that will not be forgotten in this household.