"You can't read it," I would say. And I would cover up whatever it was that I was writing. Usually, a short story or the beginnings of a novel or an article about a topic that fascinated me. I filled notebook after notebook with unfinished, handwritten work that I wouldn't let anyone see.
I went to college and graduate school, studying history and political science, and certain that I would do some brilliant creative writing. That I wouldn't let anyone read of course. I ended up on an unrelated career path and sure enough, no one read the creative writing I didn't do. Now, it's time. I've gone back to my history roots and finally started working on that creative project.
I've been spending a lot of time in the 18th century, surrounded by women, often in taverns. And while the book itself has a long way to go, I thought it would be fun (and perhaps useful) to share some of the incredible stories I'm finding along the way.
Here's what we'll be exploring around here:
Tavern culture. I've always been fascinated by taverns and coffeehouses and the role they played in the evolution of America. The people, the politics, the food, the drink...we'll talk about all of it.
Women in the 18th century. Who they were, where they lived, how they worked. It may sometimes be hard to find women in the historical record, but when I do I want to pass along what I've found.
Life in coastal towns and at sea. I'm drawn to stories of the ocean, its navigation, and the people who traveled it. There may be pirates. And naval conflict.
Books. All the books! From complex history to glittery historical fiction to timeless classics, I'll be talking about all of it.
Here's how we'll do this:
Storytelling (fact and fiction). I'm going to start posting some of the history I'm working with right here. Snippets from my creative project, book recommendations, journaling from site visits. And I want to use this space to connect readers to other historians who are doing incredible work.
Video. I'm starting a YouTube channel as another vehicle for sharing what I'm working on. I'm a rookie videographer and I'm still working my way around the editing process, so be patient with me, especially these early attempts. It might be rough, but it should get better. Here's an introductory video to get the ball rolling. I also envision doing some traditional vlogging to give a behind-the-scenes look at how creative public historians work.
Photography. I'm not a professional photographer and I have no talent worth trying to develop. But I think photography can do wonders for bringing people closer to history, so come join me on Instagram. This will be a fairly dynamic space, so I don't envision having a specific posting schedule. I've been posting my daily schedule just to give a behind-the-scenes look at the process. I've also had some fun with #humpdayhistory on Wednesdays, so I could see that becoming a regular feature. (Although, that hashtag sometimes brings out some NSFW followers, so…) We'll see what develops, but be sure to check in periodically to see what's happening.
So, that's the plan for this little public history space. I guess after all this time, I should stop covering up what I really want to do.