November Tea Party Winners: Carrie Fancett Pagels' copy of The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection - Debbie Curto, Christmas tea - Andrea Stephens, Golden Tea body wash Joy Ellis, lighthouse earrings -- Pegg's SIL from Lake Ann and Perrianne Askew, Pegg Thomas's Leather journal - Shelia Hall, and Writing Prompts book goes to - Connie Porter Saunders
Friday, August 24, 2018
Writing Colonial Era Stories
Even as a teenager, I used to tell people that I was born 100 years too late. Now I realize that it was more like 200 years. I love old things and old ways. What draws me to the Colonial Era is the stark simplicity of life then. The black and white of what it took to succeed ... to survive.
My current work in progress is set at the end of the Civil War. In all my research, it amazes me how vastly different the country was less than 90 years after the Revolution. Advancements in manufacturing, medicine, travel ... it would have been unrecognizable to our Founding Fathers. What would they have thought of the railway system?! The world was faster paced and much more complex.
Colonial Americans had to work hard to succeed and survive. Aside from the larger cities - with their open sewers and other amenities - most people scratched out a living from the land around them. If not farmers, they were trappers, hunters, fishermen, mill operators, or sailors moving men and materials through a vast network of rivers and streams because roads were few and poorly constructed. If they worked hard and stayed healthy, they prospered. While divided by religion, Puritans, Quakers, Presbyterian, and Episcopalians, for the most part, they worked side by side to grow this nation.
By the Civil War, that was no longer true. People were divided by more than religion. There were immigrant classes denoted by signs such as "No Irish Need Apply." Cities were filled with slums of this immigrant community or that. The sewers were underground, but the conditions were still poor. In contrast, the rich sections of the cities grew opulent, lighted by gas street lamps. The countryside was settled, the farms established. The poor worked in factories for pitiful wages under dangerous conditions. No matter how hard they worked, their chances of succeeding were slim.
When writing in the Colonial setting, it's easier for me to slip into that mindset of what would my character need to do to survive? He or she needed shelter, food, and clothing and more likely than not had to provide the raw material for much of it. It was hard work, but it wasn't complicated.
I guess as I sit here and type on a computer ... part of me wishes for a life that was less complicated. Go figure.