See You Next In The 18th Century

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It is a great way to start the new year: yesterday, the light bulb went on over my head. I don’t recall precisely what had led my mind down this route. However, one irritation certainly helped encourage me.

We see this a lot. Recently on Twitter, I encountered yet another person who authoritatively tweets easily debunked false/misleading Thomas Jefferson quotes. It’s not the first time I’ve seen this person do it, and, fed up with saying nothing, when I finally pointed one out to him as provably false evidently he thought joking about it justifies messing around with the historical record. He chose not to delete, or even to amend, that tweet, and as of today it remains up for his “100,000” Twitter followers and anyone else to stumble upon as “fact”:

Screen capture of Twitter.
Screen capture of Twitter.

Seeing that nonsense may have helped clarify my thinking. I know now what I’m going to try to do for my fourth novel. After my mind focused on the idea, I clicked around on the net to scope out any similar books and I’ve seen nothing exactly like it so far.

Based on that, you may have guessed already that it won’t be a continuation of the three Atlantic Lives novels. It will also be a real writing challenge: before I even type a word, I’ve got a ton of background historical reading and research to do to prepare. I’m at square one.

Thankfully, I already know quite a bit about the historical main characters and about 18th century America and France generally – and that is all the hint I’m sharing here. 😉 It will be a stand alone novel that heeds historical fact insofar as possible. Naturally, I still don’t know if it will be possible to write, but I want to dig deeper and investigate the idea much further to see if it is viable.

Thomas Jefferson replica statuette, from the famous original by Jean-Antoine Houdon, 1789. [Photo by me, 2016.]
Thomas Jefferson replica statuette, from the famous original by Jean-Antoine Houdon, 1789. [Photo by me, 2016.]
That commitment will now mean I’m definitely saying “au revoir” for a while to my late 20th century “kids.” I say “kids” because, in a way, given their ages, the youthful characters in the Atlantic Lives books have all come to feel a bit like my own “kids.” I’ve spent over three years with them; but I had already made it clear to myself with the completion of Distances that it was not “adieu” to them yet regardless: that they’d be back one day.

As I was finishing Distances in October and November, it was not only the concurrent real-life deaths in my family that dragged me down inside. Already knowing I was going to take something of a break from the ongoing tale (three novels in three years had largely worn me out), but unsure what I was going to write next, a feeling of unease and even a little “depression” about the future was coupled with the fact that I was already beginning to miss “the kids.”

Well, “the kids” and their life adventures will have a rest for the time being, and that’s fine. I will return to them at some point – and if this planned new novel doesn’t seem likely to pan out (which I should know by the summer), I will perhaps return to them sooner. Given yesterday’s brainstorm, January 1, 2016 is a date I am now going to remember for sure.

Happy weekend!

NOTE: If for some reason you feel an urge to tweet/retweet, or post to Facebook, or post anywhere else, a “Thomas Jefferson” quote you see, but which also provides NO SOURCE, have a click over to THIS PAGE first.

The Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which runs his Monticello estate, has researchers who actually spend time running down false Jefferson quotes. Some of the fakes – like that one above – are REAL whoppers. Ultimately, though, doing so in the age of Twitter and Facebook is probably a lot like trying to push water up hill, but the effort still needs to be made so blatant falsehoods are at least modestly confronted somewhere.

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