Creating a Family Saga - FS13 - Family Sagas Never Seem to End
The Homeplace Saga approaches an 8th Anniversary and strongly continues to grow
My muse comes and goes, it seems. Does yours?
Some time ago I published a hub here titled, “3 Threats - When is a Novel Not a Novel?” I expressed resignation after the well developed characters of my long-running historical fiction, family saga, “The Homeplace Saga,” refused to allow me to write the “3 Threats to the Homeplace” novel. It would have been the fourth in the series, that I had just spent months planning on and beginning to draft. For sure it was a good decision to stop at that point. I assumed that was, perhaps, the end of the Saga, for the 20th Century portion, anyway, at least. I continued to write short stories on my three hub platforms here, including continuing 19th Century stories of the Saga.
My third novel in the Saga, “Christmas at the Homeplace,” had ended at the end of 1996. 3 Threats had been planned to begin in January 1999. 1997 and 1998 sort of nagged at me; much unfinished family business did remain after “Christmas.” So I began to write some weekly blog posts on the home blog () - monthly updates each Friday. By the time I got to December 1998, an amazing thing had happened. The characters spoke to me, again, and suggested to start from the 3 Threats drafts I had written, for January 1999, and let the characters tell the stories they wanted to tell. Don’t be constrained by the planned overarching theme, they said, but just play out the stories in their own, natural way.
Doing that felt good. A portion of the story even fed a renewed interest is certain portions of the 19th Century stories I was moving ahead with here on HubPages. The story came to a conclusion in early February 1999 of the storyline, including major portions of the 3 Threats issues, but told from the viewpoint of my main characters, not necessarily according to my pre-planning concepts. That done, again, I let them sit for a few months. A few months ago, my muse quit on me on the 19th Century stories as well. Or, perhaps, life got in the way.
Would you live here?
Technology changes intervene
I recently received notice that Microsoft would no longer support Word, for free, on my 2009 Mac computer. A subscription would be required to continue using Word. I don’t do subscriptions. That hadn’t bothered me, too much, since I was no longer doing a large volume of writing and I had a couple of other very usable word processors available to me. Those thousands of documents I had in Word weren’t going away, I just couldn’t edit them anymore. I wasn’t doing any editing, anyway, so what? I could still convert each one, as needed to a PDF using my Print function, and copy off those to Pages, or TextEdit, or whatever, when I needed to. No apparent problem. A nuisance, but not yet a serious problem, as I saw it at the time.
For a few years now, I have had a very useful free wiki website I call “The Homeplace Saga: Beyond the Books.” It has all the background material on my “The Homeplace Saga,” details of every character (19th and 20th Century) as well as each and every business in my fictional town setting of Oak Springs in the Oak Creek Valley of the Southern Missouri Ozark Mountains. It was also an invitation for others to collaborate on the stories on the wiki. No one ever took me up on it, but that is beside the point. My oldest daughter did use the site as a reference in our early discussions, years ago… Suddenly, a while back, a notice arrived that that site would disappear in several months. What to do? I hated to lose all of that great content, built up over several years of research and writing.
Consulting with my techie oldest daughter, again, she suggested, among other things, that I consider Google Sites as a currently available free site. She said it would likely work to rebuild my “Beyond the Books” site there. Wow! Could I, would I, really do that? One option to save my content was that the old site offered to provide PDF files of all the content. I did that, and it was 96 pages. Oh, my! ;-) However, I decided to go into Google Sites and see what the process would look like to reconstruct my site. Within an hour or so of experimenting, I realized it was feasible, and I was capable of actually doing it. Neat! Using the Table of Contents of PDFs, I determined the hierarchy of pages I would need for the full site. I also began to see a couple of new approaches that might even improve the new site over the old site. Before long, I had the first 8-10 pages created, and realized that with a steady create, copy, and paste it would not be an overwhelming task. I also did a little editing of the content as I went from page to page.
What a beautiful valley!
One thing leads to another
As a result of the “Beyond the Books” website re-creation, of course, I found myself deep into the details of these many characters and settings I had created; some many years ago, others more recently. Oh, how wonderful they were! In my mind, of course. How many stories still remained to be told, hidden in between the nooks and crannies of the edited novels and novellas and short stories I had already published. My writing juices were renewed. My muse returned. New project ideas flowed. Oh, my goodness.
One thought was that those 56 episodes, for the period of 1997, 1998, and early 1999, on the blog might actually represent a new novella, ebook, or some such. Did I want to consider that? If so, how much effort should be devoted to making that into something workable and useful? The first physical step would be to compile all 56 posts into a single working document. And, wouldn’t you know it, the individual drafts were all originally drafted in Word! So, open the Word Doc, convert to PDF using the Print Function, save in a new folder, open the PDF, copy all, and paste into the new document using another word processor. What fun! Then, of course, a first pass at editing the whole thing by renumbering all of the episodes and removing all the opening and closing redundant wording used for the individual blog posts. With that done I had created a document of just over 30,000 words. How much more editing to do to make it readable as one document was the next challenge…
The next project to come out of this process was a desire to take one of the minor characters, that I really like, and go back to 1996 and write a hub series fleshing out her story over a few years, within the framework of the existing stories of which she was a small part, on the fringes. I’ve already used this story telling approach on more than one of my 19th Century characters. I’ve really enjoyed the process and the results. It really much like creating a whole new character and telling their story. There are constraints, but aren’t there always? I am really looking forward to my writing being rejuvenated by this process. And the Family Saga continues on…