Bloomers! #NANWRIMO Day 19 :)

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I’ve been having a lot of thoughts today that most of you have already had.  Most of my thoughts centered around the idea that its hard to write on this schedule (no kidding) instead of just writing when you feel inspired.  However, I think if I waited around to write only when I was inspired, I would probably not get anything written — owing to the fact that usually my inspiration strikes in the middle of the night (in dreams I probably won’t remember) or while I’m driving, or while I’m out to dinner — none of which are great places to bust out the laptop and capture the moment.

So back to writing on this nanowrimo schedule… I kind of feel like my tank is dry.  I read a blog post the other day where the Wrimo’er basically shared that they had hit that point in nanwrimo where they had executed all of the writing for the stuff they had planned, and now had resorted to full-fledged pantsing.  I feel like I’m at that point.

So what to do?  Just keep writing even though it feels totally lame, just to garner that proverbial “win”?  Your thoughts are much appreciated here.

As far as my thoughts go — I’m leaning toward going for the finish line.  Simply because I want all of the nanowrimo badges (shallow I know), but also because perhaps in all the dross my fingers pound out there will be one or two things I can use when I make good on my revision pledge (gotta get that badge too you know.).

So tonight, I wrote an impromptu scene about women’s fashion and… BLOOMERS.  Do you guys know about bloomers?  They were kind of a thing in 1849.  And even though my novel is set in 1854, I figured hey — bloomers could still be a thing. 🙂

Enjoy.

Today’s ending word count 32,057 — I’m getting there folks!

***McKendrick Saga Excerpt – Nanwrimo Day 19 *****

Jo threw herself upon Lu’s bed with utter abandon.  She couldn’t possibly be more grateful to have an outing come to an end.  Not that she didn’t like shopping, because she did.  Who didn’t like to get something new or different?  It was clothes shopping that she objected to.  Women’s clothes had to be the most frivolous, most useless things in the whole world, Jo thought.

“Jo, really.  Why do you have to look so miserable? It’s not as if you’ve just came from a funeral” Lu said, teasing her friend.

“It most certainly was a funeral,” Jo argued,  “A funeral for my freedom.  For my liberty.  For my days of having a say in my own life!  Time to be reborn as Charity McKendrick’s debutante daughter and land a rich and socially prominent husband!” Jo said without irony.

“Its not as bad as all that,” Lucinda encouraged.  “At least the dress was beautiful. You’ll no doubt be the very talk of the fair.”  Lu looked at the window dreamily, as if she were reliving the scene at the modiste.  She hugged her arms to herself, as if shy, bent a dainty curtsey to an invisible dance partner, then began whirling her way around the room.

Jo watched her pretty friend and sighed.  Lucinda was beautiful.  She had dark brown hair, almost black, with large, soft, warm brown eyes.  They were fringed with the longest, thickest black lashes that Jo had ever seen.  And whenever Lu chose to bat those lashes, which was quite often, she was quite irresistible.  Though not wholly irresistible, Jo thought.  Lu had certain amorous feelings for their mutual friend Calvin, though she would never admit it.  It was easy enough to see, the way she behaved around him, all smiles, and blushes, and flutters.  Sometimes Lu’s methods were so painfully obvious that Jo had to stifle a laugh or two of her own.  But so far as Jo could tell, Calvin had remained oblivious to Lu’s overtures, or he simply ignored them.  Jo wasn’t entirely sure which.

“I can’t wait for the fair.  Mother said there will be a thirty piece orchestrate there, and that they will have all the latest tunes to play.”  Lucinda continued her twirling and talking, “ I hope Calvin is there,” she said dreamily, and then quickly went on lest she reveal too much of her actual feelings, “oh and Jonathan of course, and Henry, and Carlisle, and…”

Jo burst out laughing, “do you mean to seduce them all?”

“Well, it can’t hurt.” Lu said playfully.  “Father says never to put all of your eggs in one basket.”

“Well I could care less about who is there.  I just pray that the evening passes quickly.” Jo drifted over toward Lucinda’s vanity where several circulars and periodicals were arranged in neat little piles.  Most of them appeared to be the latest fashion circulars, of which Lu was an avid reader. Jo flipped through the pages testily. Each page revealed another frothy creation that was no doubt designed to exhibit its wearer’s feminine assets to great effect.

“Just what is the purpose of all this anyway, Lu?”  Jo asked sincerely.  “Is there any practicality at all to it?  Did someone, somewhere, at one point think, young ladies need bigger bottoms, so lets make a bustle!”

Lucinda giggled at Jo’s plain speaking, but attempted an honest answer, “Women’s clothing isn’t about being practical, its about being pretty – pretty enough to turn a man’s head.  At least that’s what my father says.”

“Bah! What do I care if I turn a man’s head?  A woman can barely turn herself in some of these contraptions!” Jo tapped an angry finger on a full page illustration of the latest corset and spring-steel hooped frames. “I mean just look at this?  It’s already impossible to get through the doors with the piles of petticoats, hoops, and fabric that we are expected to wear, and they now propose to clad us in this? Surely all of Boston will have to be rebuilt to simply accommodate the passage of ladies through the doorways,” Jo snorted.

Lu looked at the illustration causing Jo so much consternation and said, “I should be happy to wear it. Just imagine how it would sway and sashay as I move across the ballroom floor.  I should be a vision, I think!”

“Be serious Lu.  You can not possibly see this as a practical garment.” Jo insisted.  Lu loved pretty clothes, loved feeling pretty in them.  Jo understood this.  But even Lu had to admit that none of it served any functional purpose.  Not like the clothing men wore.  Jo thought about the way she dressed whenever on an adventure with Calvin: strong sturdy breeches, the kind that didn’t wear out from too much horse riding, or scraping against the rough bark of a tree when climbing.  She thought of how easy it was to breathe whenever she wore her brother’s old shirts, and even though she bound her chest to ensure the boyish effect, air still flowed freely in and out of her lungs.  Why would any woman, if given the choice, choose to wear a painful corset that made it so difficult to breathe that one was in constant danger of passing out?  Jo would never know.

“Perhaps if you are so insistent upon wearing practical ladies clothes, you should take a look at this,” Lu said as she opened a different circular to reveal another illustration.

Jo studied the illustration as one would an exotic animal.  Never before had she seen such an ensemble as displayed before her on this page.  The lady in the illustration sported a relatively loose fitting top bound by a narrow belt at the waist, a shortened skirt that fell only just below the knee, and under all that, a pair of the strangest trousers that Jo had ever seen, cinched in tight at the lady’s ankles.

“What in the world is this?”  Jo said, not without a little awe.

“That, dear Jo, is an illustration of Amelia Jenks Bloomer, noted suffragette and reluctant fashioniste,” Lu took in the surprise and delight on Jo’s face and couldn’t help but laugh. “See something you like?”

Jo saw many things she liked. Her mind raced, thinking of all the things that would be possible in such an outfit.  The short skirt and pants would no doubt make riding astride that much easier.  There were no hoops, at least not as Jo could determine, which would certainly make walking, sitting, just plain living a breeze.  And the top…  Jo looked closer at the image, and gasped.

“She’s not wearing a corset!” Jo exclaimed with wonder.

“Of course not,” Lu said smartly. “You said you wanted practicality.”

“What are these called?” Jo said, pointing at the trouser like undergarments, “And is this allowed?  For her to show her undergarments like this?”

“They aren’t undergarments silly,” Lu giggled again, “they’re bloomers.”

“Bloomers?” Jo asked curiously, “But isn’t that her name?”

“Yes but people have taken to calling them Bloomers, after her. She wore them to the Seneca Falls convention.  She’s a suffragette.” Lu’s voice dropped to a whisper on the last word.

“A suffragette!” Jo exclaimed, with Lu shushing her immediately.

“Jo!  Do be quiet!” Lu whisper yelled.  “My father absolutely forbids any talk of suffrage in the house.”

“Then where did you get this magazine?” Jo asked pointedly.

Lu hemmed and hawed.  “I borrowed it from Ms. Johnson’s last time we were there for the sewing circle.”

Contrary to the name, a sewing circle was not primarily for the purpose of sewing.  The sewing circles of Boston (and elsewhere) were covers for women’s abolitionist fundraising and petitioning efforts.  Lucinda’s mother was very “involved” in several sewing circles, though her main concern was abolition and not suffrage, even though the two often went hand in hand.  Mrs. Johnson, on the other hand, was an ardent supporter of the suffragist cause, and was even close friends with Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

“Borrowed huh?” Jo said thoughtfully.  Lu had a bad habit of borrowing a lot of things that weren’t hers.  It was a problem to be sure, but for once Jo was ecstatic that Lu had a borrowing problem.

Jo folded the book closed and studied the cover of “The Lily”.  “Hmmmm, published by the Ladies Temperance Society.  But they’re teetotalers, not suffragists. That doesn’t seem like suffrage propaganda.” Jo asked.

“Well I think it started as a magazine devoted to temperance, but includes articles of interest to those ladies with suffragist leanings. At least that’s what I overheard Mrs. Johnson saying to Mrs. Wright at the meeting,” Lu said slyly.

“Eavesdropping too? My goodness Lu, we have been busy.” Jo tsked, raising her eyebrow in mock rebuke.

Jo flipped back to the illustration of Amelia Bloomer.  The caption read Mrs. Amelia Bloomer turns heads with outrageous ensemble at the Seneca Falls Women’s Convention. “Outrageous huh?  Looks pretty practical to me.”  Jo had a speculative look on her face.

“Perhaps you can get Dorothea to make you some,” Lu suggested helpfully.

“Indeed,”  Jo said thoughtfully, “but the question is, can she do it in time for the fair?”

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