25. Oct, 2016

My Wobbly West

As you probably by now appreciate, I'm wild about the west. Have not the foggiest why. Think I must have been reincarnated from Calamity Jane. It's also likely in the genes/jeans. My paternal great great uncle emigrated west during the 1890s. According to family law he owned a farmstead in British Columbia, was burnt out by indians, but survived to escape down south and joined Sunkist in Los Angeles, set up to provide citrus fruits for miners. On my maternal side, another great great uncle emigrated during the 1890s, to Dawson City, Canada, and took up book keeping - his trade - and prospecting.

My fascination for the west revolves around the gun-totin', buckskinned, fringed, stetson wearing cowgirl, the female prospectors/miners and saloon keepers. The woman stagecoach driver (there were a few), ranchers etcetera. Don't know why this all started, but watching TV series such as The Virginian, The High Chapperal, Alias Smith and Jones, and seeing Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, made me wonder why the female of the species didn't play these rough 'n tough, adventurous parts too. In reality a lot of them did. Had to, even.

And so, with the help of Husband, over the years we bought the gear from various western stores and events. Gunbelt, two blank firing Colt revolvers, stetsons, vests (waistcoats), you-name-it... Today I've got the lot, including a Bowie knife, fringed pants, mountain man shirt, replica Winchester rifle. When I do my Kitty Le roy act, I'm in there, swaggering along at camp, and other westerners call me Kitty without a thought. Eeh-hah!

Depression and anxiety escalated until, around ten years ago, I had to stop camping. We missed it, but for those years I angsted (is there such a word?) to death over whether I would be returning to camps or not. The anxiety over the idea was intense. I couldn't face it.

Meanwhile I was writing my novel. On and off, but mostly on in the latter years. I was embarrassed and self conscious because of the content of sex and violence! Also meanwhile, I couldn't watch westerns or anything west related on the TV, or listen to western movie music. Loved a lot of it, but couldn't watch or listen. Initially, through depression, I felt sad watching/listening to these things. Analysing the thought, which is what I had to do, I held the strong feeling that I didn't belong there. I wasn't 'allowed' to be the character I wanted to be. It's still there, that feeling, particularly when I listen to movie music.

But matters are improving. I attended my first camp this year with flying colours, met old friends and made new ones. But I still have troubles with my novel. Yes, it's got it's beginning, it's muddle, and it's end. But there's the age-old passion of writers - perfection. I want it out there. I need it out there. I have posted chapters to various friends and on Facebook pages, and the responses have been brilliant. I've received many positive critiques, but my brain is finding it hard to accept that the plot is good. I will post chapters on here. See what people think. (After all, it's only over a hundred chapters long!).

I've watched portions of Sharon Stone in The Quick and the Dead, and she's the closest role model for my book. Some folk have suggested Doris Day's Calamity Jane. No. She's great - funny and feisty (which I like to model myself on) but not rough 'n tough enough.

On a final note, my dear son has just asked me to read out loud a part of the beginning. Doesn't sound much, but heck - having not been able to read out portions involving my protagonist - in particularly speaking parts - I'm absolutely chuffed. Let me have some more chuffs, please!