Emily outside the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison
One of our favorite places to write is Madison, Wisconsin, and one of our favorite places in Madison is the Wisconsin Historical Society. On our Plank Road trip back in the summer of 2000, Emily and I made fascinating discoveries in the Historical Society archives.
After showing proper identification, stowing our belongings in lockers, and putting on white gloves, we were allowed to touch the artifacts in the Society’s collection of historical images. We were so delighted with our finds–a wagon on a plank road, a tollgate–that we probably annoyed other less excitable researchers in the room.
Reading Room of the Wisconsin Historical Society
Now that Plank Road Winter is in the hands of our trusty editor, Philip Martin of Crickhollow Books, Emily and I are back in Madison working on our new book. This morning while I attended my class at UW Write-by-the-Lake, Emily spent hours at the Historical Society transcribing a Civil War soldier’s handwritten account.
Over lunch at the UW Union we discussed our respective mornings and plotted the next phase of our writing project. Then we spent a quiet hour together in the beautifully restored Reading Room of the Wisconsin Historical Society.
Life is good.
Two days ago Emily and I realized that Plank Road Winter, our revision in progress, needed an entirely new chapter. The next day I plotted scenes in my head while driving from Indiana to Wisconsin.
The following morning at the Milwaukee airport I filled twenty pages in the little spiral notebook I carry in my purse. Aboard a flight to Minneapolis, I typed those pages into my Netbook.
I spent the afternoon in the Augsburg College library alternately scribbling in the spiral and typing from the handwritten draft. Early in the evening I typed the final lines of Chapter 27, emailed the manuscript to my sister author, and headed off to see the campus show that was my purpose for the trip.
Ending a long session of writing fiction is like coming up from underground, blinking and a bit dazed by the strange world of colors and light. It’s nearly the same feeling as closing a book after a long stretch of reading. One emerges groggy and disoriented from traveling between worlds.
I write this post aboard a flight from Minneapolis to Milwaukee—though I have not yet arrived in Milwaukee, as the plane has been diverted to Madison, Wisconsin, because of snow. Does this mean I’ll have an opportunity to sit in an airport and edit a few more chapters of Plank Road Winter?
A writer can always make use of an unexpected gift of time.