I really struggled today. I’m having issues with my story. First I thought it was Jared’s story. Then I realized it was Jolene’s story (his sister). Then I thought it was Jared’s story again. I don’t know who the heck’s story this is. Then today, I thought maybe its everyone’s story. And so, maybe every chapter is told from the perspective of a different character in the book. But no, that’s not it either.
I think I just need to keep writing until I have a breakthrough. Someone we were reading the other day said, “First drafts are an act of discovery,” and boy are they! I never really realized this before — just how much I thought I knew before writing, completely goes out the window while writing. I feel like the story I knew so well, for years even, doesn’t even exist — and suddenly this new imposter story has shown up in its place.
Oh well, I’m just going to work through it.
I told my husband today that “I’m quitting nanowrimo.” He just said, “Ok”. He didn’t argue with me or anything. I wanted him to say something. I wanted him to say, “no honey you can’t, you’ve come so far! You can do it! I’ll help you, I’ll be your biggest cheerleader” blah blah blah. But he didn’t. Just said, “Ok.” And kept typing furiously away at his own story. I realized I was being a wimpy kitty baby whiner.
I eventually got over my little temper tantrum and started writing. I’m not happy, but not disappointed with it either. I’m just… bleh. Like Dori says, Just keep swimming. So that’s what I’m going to do… just keep swimming.
so here’s today’s excerpt….
[also if you’ve read previous excerpts and the names have changed, please ignore. I haven’t decided on a lot of the names for the supporting cast yet…]
**********McKendrick Saga Excerpt – Nanwrimo Day 8 **********
Tamsen Quick was a free man. He was born free in the great state of Conneticut, and he was raised in the outskirts of New Elba New York. At least, that’s what Tamsen Quick wanted everyone to believe. But Tam had a secret, and that was that he wasn’t free at all – or at least he shouldn’t be. His mother, Ruby, had been a runaway slave, carrying her owner’s bastard. Eight months pregnant and desperate to escape the clutches of an animal that terrorized her day and night, she had somehow found the courage to flee. She often told Tamsen fleeing was the easier part. Staying would have taken more courage than she had.
On that fateful night, Ruby had followed the drinking gourd to the underground railroad, and had made it to Connecticut just in time for Tamsen to arrive. Too weary to travel with a newborn, Mr. and Mrs. Grey Harcourt, a pair of passionate abolitionists and hosts of one of the “stations” on the railroad, had provided for the young mother and child. For the next ten years, until Ruby’s death, she had worked in the Harcourt home, and had seen to it that Tamsen grew up safe and healthy.
In time, Mr. Harcourt – Tamsen’s benefactor — had recognized a keen intelligence in the carefree lad, and had nurtured it earnestly. Tam had an insatiable curiosity that the childless Harcourts were only too happy to satisfy. They hired tutors and scholars to work with the boy, and used their connections to secure his admission to good schools. It was, in fact, the Harcourts’ connections that had ultimately seen Tamsen admitted to Harvard to study the law.
Though Tamsen had not grown-up a slave, he was very aware of how near a miss it had been. If not for his mother’s determination to steal away in the very last hour of her pregnancy, Tamsen might have been born a slave on his father’s plantation in Virginia. Instead, here he sat, an intelligent and educated young man, in his very first lecture at Harvard Law. He had been admitted only for the fall term, and as a temporary exchange student from [insert college name here]. Supposedly, two other exceptional negro students had been admitted this term, along with Tam. Though a quick survey of the room in front him showed only a sea of white. Tam felt the weight of a hundred uncomfortable stares heating his cheeks, he hoped his two colleagues would soon show up, lest he be left here to face the burden alone.
Jared saw the young man enter the room, confident but not cocky. He carried himself with a sort of dignity and pride, as if he knew he belonged here the same as anyone else. Hair the color of wet sand topped a caramel colored countenance, a slight build, and a short stature that had never seen a hard day’s work. A scholar then, Jared decided. The wire rimmed spectacles on the young man’s nose only confirmed Jared’s initial assessment. Definitely bookish.
“Ah, you must be Mr. Quick,” Professor Sanders said. The young man nodded. Sanders gestured to a seat in front and the said to the class, “This is Mr. Tamsen Quick, from New York. He is here to join us as a transfer student for this semester.”
A number of chairs seemed to shift uncomfortably. The air grew thick and stale, unmoving. No one breathed. Jared looked around the room. It was full to capacity, more than four dozen students, and more than half of them from slave holding states. He could see the angry glares on many faces, looks of disgust on others, still others had a tinge of shock to them. From his fellow New Englanders he could see a mix of confused surprise, as if they didn’t know what to make of a negro in their law lecture, at least not as a fellow student.
Professor Sanders rearranged his notes in front of him and again began to lecture.
“As I was saying, the Missouri Compromise of 18xx required that…”
A hand shot up. A throat cleared loudly, “Ahem,”
“What is it Mr. Jones?” Professor Sanders said impatiently at Rhett Jones over the top of his podium.
“I do beg your pardon suh, but I am quite certain that my honorable father did not send me to Harvard to be educated with niggers.”
His statement elicited a number of aggressive murmurs and assents. Jared eyed the new student carefully. He didn’t even flinch. Brave then, too.
“Mr. Jones, I do believe that your father sent you here to be educated with the very best minds this fine country has to offer, and Mr. Quick is one of those minds.” Professor Sanders’ gaze returned to his notes and he cleared his throat to begin again.
“If this is the best this country has to offer, then I think Oxford a better school for me,” Jones retorted. Again many murmurs of agreement punctuated his rebuttal.
“Then Oxford shall have you.” Professor Sanders said without hesitation. “I believe you can see yourself out. Now then, shall we?”
The moment hung suspended; the only thing that moved was the air coming from Professor Sanders as he read aloud his lecture notes. Nearly all the students sat agog, mouths slackened in shock and surprise, Jared not the least among them. Jared saw the faces of his southern classmates contorting into affectations of rage and effrontery.
The sound of Jones’ boots hitting the floor broke the silence. He walked from the room in protest. Jones had some amount of clout, for a great number of his fellow classmates stood and followed him out the door.
Professor Sanders never missed a beat, but continued to lecture throughout the mass exodus.
Jared’s gaze returned to the negro student once again. His face was a mask, betraying none of the tumult he must surely be feeling. Cool-tempered, then.
Jared decided then and there that he liked this young man. He liked him a lot.