Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Week to Remember

The book launch for Lessons Learned: The Story of Pilot Mountain School was one week ago today. Wow, what a week! Book signings. Speeches. And a writers' conference tucked in between.

The same day as the launch, I spoke at the monthly meeting of the Burke County Historical Society and shared with them the how and why of my writing process. Beyond talking about the book and the related Burke County history that I included in the text, I told them a few stories that ended up on the cutting room floor, or in more appropriate terms, the delete box. Earlier versions of my manuscript, for example, included pages and pages about gold mining in Brindletown, the family that made a fortune and lost it within five years, the slave revolt where slaves who were allowed to mine one day for themselves argued with owners about what belonged to them and what belonged to their owners, the old hotels that served the fortune hunters and the "interesting" activities that took place there. That was only one element of the book.

What to include? What to delete? I developed a litmus test of my own. Rule one, the story or quote must have some connection to the school and the children who attended, not just the community.

There was no rule two.

I included gold mining because the now-grown children talked about playing in the gold mine holes, about digging for clay in those holes and bringing it to school for art class, about panning for gold and about hiding in the woods, spying on adults who were following a vein so they could later sneak back and strike gold of their own.

Each decision on including or deleting weighed heavy on my heart. Some people shared heartbreaking stories, then through tears, pleaded with me not to include them in the finished product. I honored those requests. Some stories I felt were not complete and because I never found the full story, I felt I could not include them in the book.

But oh, the stories I did include! I can't wait for you to read the book and see for yourself.

Catch of the day,


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