All good fairy-tales start with “Once upon a time.”  Do you remember sitting on your mama’s lap, perhaps with a thumb in your mouth?  Her voice gently soothed you as she read stories of long ago and far away.  Her voice sounded like a lullaby as she brought you to lands from the past.  You no longer lived in the present on your mama’s lap; you were gone into a story.  So far gone that you later blinked and wondered where the time disappeared and how that story was so real, as real as your living room and your mama’s voice.

The old high school made into an apartment building; the Ford water tower

The old high school made into an apartment building; the Ford water tower

Stories have the ability to send us into other worlds.  Where would we be without stories, without books, without tales of overcoming and learning and crying and loving? 

I am thinking a LOT about stories since starting NaNoWriMo three days ago.  About the value of stories, and the challenges of stories.

As some of you may have guessed, my fictional story is set in our nearby ghost town of Pequaming back in 1932.  Henry Ford bought this village and aimed to make it into a model town, a sociological experiment.  He insisted that the villagers get rid of their chickens and cows claiming the animals were unsanitary and that on $5.00 a day wages each family could afford to buy milk and eggs.  He required each family to cultivate a garden.  He banned drinking, insisted workers save a percentage of their wages and did “general surveillance” of their homes.  He maintained stringent village rules, and pioneered an educational system in his private school system accredited by the University of Michigan.

The "Bungalo"

The "Bungalow"

Henry Ford was especially fond of Pequaming and annually spent a few days in his Bungalow, a seven-pillared, fourteen room home.  When he arrived, the whole town turned out to greet him with a band concert and old-fashioned dances.  Both the Mr. and Mrs. enjoyed dancing.

The Ford's view of Lake Superior through the southern-style columns

The Ford's view of Lake Superior through the southern-style columns

You may be wondering:  what the heck am I writing about?  OK, here’s the scoop.  This is actually a story which has been rambling around in my head since I was in my late 20’s.  It’s the story of a young school teacher who comes up on a train from Chicago and teaches in one of the four elementary school buildings in Pequaming.  She has two suitors, a Ojibway fellow named David and a Finnish socialist (yep, there were a lot of Finnish socialists living here at that time) named Christian.

Barry, by the way, raised his eyebrows at the name of the suitors.  What kind of name is “David” for the Ojibway suitor?  Or “Christian” for that matter?  I refused to budge.  That was their names.  End of story. 

And, strangely enough, I later opened the history book of Pequaming and discovered that a chief named David King had sold Pequaming to a white logger named Hebard in 1879.  Perhaps my make-believe David could be a descendant, do you think?  And when wandering in the Pequaming cemetery on Sunday I noted one of the old-time graves belonging to a fellow named Christian. 

Perhaps the ghosts are whispering the story to me…

The beautiful gardens were here

The beautiful gardens were here

Here is where Henry kept his Model T's and Model A's

Here is where Henry kept his Model T's and Model A's

Here is what I have learned about writing in three days:

1.  Don’t believe your thoughts about the quality of your writing or whether you have a story to tell.  Just keep writing. You can edit later.

2.  Don’t believe your feelings of frustration about what you are writing. Feelings are like the weather.  Changeable.  One minute it’s raining and the next sunny on your inner landscape.  Just keep writing.

3.  It doesn’t take much time to sit down and write 1,600 words a day.

4.  Just face the empty page and let the words come out.  Just keep writing.

Leaves of rust

Leaves of rust

Every lesson I have learned while writing this novel has mirrored the lessons of this outdoor commitment.  Do not believe your thoughts and feelings about why you don’t want to go outside.  Why you prefer to stay inside.  Why it’s too cold, too hot, too rainy, too snowy.  JUST GO OUTSIDE.  You won’t regret it.

** Outdoor time today~~raking.  And then more raking as Barry drove the little lawn tractor around chopping up leaves.  Another autumn chore checked off!

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