Monday, December 19, 2016

Not for the Fun of It

I have the honor of writing the last blog post for 2016.  We will return with new posts on January 16, 2017.

To wrap up our blog posts for the year, my colleagues have posted excellent lists of wonderful books they’ve read this year.

Now it is my turn.  But to be honest, I’ve read nothing purely for the fun of it this year.   I’ve been writing a nonfiction book about George Washington’s enslaved people.  So this entire year, I’ve read mountains of research material on the subject.  I’ve studied books, articles, and unpublished manuscripts on George Washington, on slavery at Mount Vernon, and on slavery in general. 

As you can imagine this topic has been a heavy one-and an important one.  Within all that research, I’ve read many things I’ve enjoyed-but they aren’t all books.  Mount Vernon is one of my favorite places and their web site is amazing.  Even though I’ve been there many times, while writing my book, I’ve used the virtual tour and look at certain rooms again.  I’ll look and read through their online collections for hundreds of artifacts.  I’ve also read through many papers both published and unpublished written by Mount Vernon’s historian Mary V. Thompson.  And I’ve poured over print outs from the Mount Vernon slavery database overseen by Molly Kerr.  I’ve read countless first person accounts of visitors to Mount Vernon who mention specific enslaved people there.   

I confess there are times when I wonder if the books I write are worth the thousands of hours I invest in them.   Would fiction be more fun to write?  Would fiction be less restrictive to write?  Would fiction be more lucrative to write?  Maybe.  But I still hang on to the belief that the sort of research and books I do are important.   

Carla Killough McClafferty


to our giveaway winner:  

Carl S.  


Mary Ann Rodman said...

Carla, you write what you love. I would "love" to write non-fiction as you do, but as soon as I've done the research, my mind starts asking "Yes, but what if this happened instead of what really happened...?" and the next thing you know, I'm back on my historical fictional track. And, yes, historical fiction takes just as much research as non-fiction, in it's own way (perhaps not as scholarly, but with the nitpicking details of speech and everyday life in a time not my own.) Now, fiction...THAT is hard because you don't have your facts and pieces of history to inspire you. Or so I've found.

Happy holidays, fellow TA! I enjoy your posts, even if I don't always comment.

Carla Killough McClafferty said...

Thanks, Mary Ann, for your post. I'd like to write fiction like you do. All of it is hard work. In the end we each write what speaks to us and fires our imagination-whether that be fiction or nonfiction.

Looking forward to another year with the amazing Teaching Authors.

Sarah said...

Biographies and historical fiction were my absolute favorite as a child, so my childhood self, who couldn't possibly have understood how difficult your craft is, thanks you a thousand times over! I'm a poet, so my research comes in the form of observing old things in new ways. Yours is much more difficult!

David McMullin said...

It IS important. Thank you for writing the books you do. I write fluffy fiction - It's what I do. But kids need to read the types of books you write. It is important.

Carla Killough McClafferty said...

Thank you, Sarah and David! I appreciate your kind words and support. Kids do need all types of books.