I Hope You’re Having Fun
My original plan for this blog has been to write about history and historical fiction. Mostly. I write posts about historical events, some reviews of history books, plus a little bit about writing. It’s history to aMuse, because I want it to be entertaining, and it’s history to me–someone who muses.
I’ve been doing this for nearly two years now. Right now I’m learning more about blogging, and I’m thinking about what my real goals and objectives are. The big questions any blogger should ask are, “What do you hope to do for your readers? How do you plan to do that? And who are your readers, anyway?”
Who Do I Think You Are?
I think you’re probably curious about the world around you, why it is the way it is, and how you can get the most out of your time in it. I think you enjoy history engaged in a relatable way, whether it’s historical fiction or a straight informal discussion. I also think you’re someone who’s interested in being engaged in your own life, finding the joy in it, and maybe thinking about some things in a way you haven’t thought about them before. That’s why I occasionally write about the benefits of exercise or singing, or maybe evil thoughts being in traffic behind someone who’s texting.
What Difference Can I make to You?
I hope to bring you some delight of discovery—of stories you didn’t know, and different ways to think about this world we live in. I love reading history, thinking about it and writing about it. You probably do, too. I think, though, the time has come for me to branch out a little, to write about how history gets written, how we come to see things the way we do.
I also want to keep writing about historical fiction. As I said two years ago, “History addresses the question, ‘What happened?’ Historical fiction asks what might have happened. It’s a great way to explore the past.” A friend of mine has commented since, “All the history I know I learned from historical fiction.” Historical fiction can give us some terrific insights not always available just from the official record.
Here’s Who I Am
I was the nerdy kid in my high-school history class who always knew some story about the ancient Greeks or Romans, thanks to school texts that had belonged to my grandfather. I got my BA in History from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, and went to King’s College London and earned an MPhil in 16th century English history. This may not strike you as an ideal preparation for a career in broadcast journalism, but that’s what I had. I worked in radio and TV news for 25 years, and the questions that we ask in the study of history stood me in good stead in journalism. What just happened? Why did it happen? Who benefits? Who is harmed? What happens next? And always—why are things the way they are?
I’ve continued reading and studying history of all kinds, and I’ve published a historical novel, The Monk Woman’s Daughter.
Why I Wrote that First Novel
One of the things I wanted my blog to do was promote sales of my novel. My first post was about how I came to write it.
“It was my curiosity about history that led me down a winding path to a real woman named Maria Monk, one of the most controversial people in 19th century America. Once I found her, my brain just couldn’t stop asking questions. First, confession time: I used to think American history was pretty boring, especially before the Civil War. It seemed to be a bunch of forgettable presidents, daring pioneers, rich plantation owners, and oppressed slaves, all represented by virtuous stereotypes.
History Shouldn’t Make You Yawn
I learned a lot writing that novel, mostly that 1840-1865 was an incredibly turbulent and fascinating time in American history, with nothing much to inspire a yawn. It was great fun to learn so much and to write about it.
I want to tell you about events, sure, but I also to us ask questions about why the record for this event is the way it is. Who wrote it? How did they see things and why? An excellent example is the bafflement that people had for centuries about why Elizabeth I didn’t marry. As I pointed out in a recent post, writers were men, and they didn’t see what a difference marriage makes in the life of a woman, especially one who has her own job to do.
How history gets written, and why, is a great subject to explore. So are the infinite possibilities of historical fiction. I have definite prejudices about historical fiction—see another early post: They’re Not All Bodice Rippers.
We Can Laugh and Adventure Together
I have to admit that this blog hasn’t turned out to be as light-hearted as I intended. There’s a lot in human history that’s steeped in greed and soaked with blood, but it still has plenty of things to find funny. Maybe more funny-peculiar than funny-ha-ha.
I’m really pleased, of course, when you comment, “That’s interesting. I didn’t know that/I never thought about it that way before.” I hope I can affect the way you learn about history, that you ask questions such as, “Why did it happen that way? And would I have seen it the same way if I’d been there?”
You might even ask, “How might that have happened?” and start creating your own historical fiction.