Saturday, October 24, 2009






It's here! It's here!

I got a call from Chapters on Thursday night, to tell me that my copy of No Plot? No Problem! had arrived. I jumped up and down a lot, but it was too late to drive to the north end of town to pick the book up, so I put that off until morning. I didn't have much time to devote to reading yesterday, but what little time I did have, I spent giggling my way through the first few pages.

I thought the novelists who kindly stop by The Turtle might enjoy this brief quotation from NPNP:

If we loved books, we were equally awestruck by their creators. Novelists were clearly a different branch of Homo sapiens; an enlightened subspecies endowed with a monstrously overdeveloped understanding of the human condition and the supernatural ability to spell words properly.

pages 8-9


That must have been in the pre-spell check era. Nowadays, spelling isn't nearly the challenge it used to be. That "overdeveloped understanding of the human condition" thing, though -- that's still pretty impressive. Is it true? When I finish my 50,000 words (Please note I said "when") will I suddenly develop a keen understanding of human nature? That would be very cool.

Also on the subject of It's here! It's here! I checked the theatre listings this morning, and sure enough, Amelia is showing this week, so our Wednesday night dinner and a movie date is on. I don't suppose I'll be able to take notes during the movie, but I'll be absorbing the atmosphere, big time.

Meanwhile, I've been thinking about Bridget's childhood. What kind of soap did she use?(Ivory, without a doubt) What kind of coffee was in the pantry -- or was coffee so expensive during the Depression (Bridget was born in 1920, so she was nine years old when the stock market crashed) that the family couldn't afford it? I've been doing some googling on the subject. It's amazing what you can find on the interwebs.  One article gave me this gem:

Imagine buying just a plain (if you can get one today) cup of coffee with cream and sugar, for five cents; a two-egg-bacon-and-toast-with-a-piece-of-pie-and-a-cup-of-coffee breakfast, for 25 cents; or a candy bar for a dime.
It doesn't sound like a lot, except those who were employed might only have been earning $2 or $3 a-day, but when you don't have those few small coins, food prices of the great depression seemed pretty high! For those who had money, life was, undoubtedly, more comfortable even considering the times, but for those who had to scrimp and scrape to put food on the table, their days were filled with worry and strife...

As the clock ticks (faster and faster, it seems) toward November 1, all these tiny, niggling questions keep popping into my mind. What if I get it wrong? What if my characters are using soap and drinking coffee that you just couldn't get in New York in the thirties? What if they take the wrong bus, or what if there was no bus in that neighbourhood at that time?

That's why I'm so glad that my book arrived. It's full of "Take a deep breath" advice. It reminds me that I'm writing a first draft in that thirty day period, not a finished novel. I can fix my mistakes, right? I should worry about who Bridget is and how she feels about Amelia Earhart and how that feeling sets her on her life's course and....and lots of things besides what's in the pantry in 1934.

I'm a little wound up. ;>)

5 comments:

John Hayes said...

Research about that ear must be quite absorbing--since my parents were young folks during the Depression I think about it a lot. Sounds like you're doing great!

AngelMay said...

Did you know that Ivory soap was actually initially a mistake? But the company played up the mistake as though it was something new and wonderful and the product just took off. I think the mistake was that too much air got into the mixture accidentally - or something like that.

You're going to do great, Sandra. You know... you could invent an imaginary neighborhood in a real city. That way you can schedule buses anytime you like. ;o)

Sandra Leigh said...

Thanks, John. Yes, the Depression is a fascinating subject, not only in itself, but in its long-term effect on the people who went through it. Nobody came through unscathed, it seems.

AM, no. I didn't realize that. We never had Ivory in the house, because it took my mother's skin off. She used to growl "99 and 44/100 per cent pure LYE!" whenever the ads came on tv.

Interesting suggestion re the neighbourhood. I shall give that lots of thought.

Kathryn Magendie said...

I laughed at that paragraph, all right *haw!!*

as for taking a breath -yes! Tender Graces and the "sequel" has chapters in the 60's and 70's and 80's, but I don't worry about much of that when I write the first draft, then I meticulously make sure I do get things correct as I rewrite and edit. Sometimes during the first draft I'll look up something, if I'm in the mood -but mostly on the second go-roung or whatever!

I have Dove soap in mine and was so glad it was made in the 60's or else I woudln't have been able to use it! dang! But one scene I had Tang, and had to take it out because Tang came the next year.... :)

You will do wonderful - have fun and enjoy the journey

Sandra Leigh said...

Thank you, Kathryn. I'm so glad to have your encouragement. You do know, don't you, that it was reading about your journey in VK's company that encouraged me to get serious about writing something? (Well, as serious as you can get about diving into a one-month writing binge, which is just a ridiculous idea!)

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