Back to Basics: Writing About Historical Fiction

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This is somebody new in my life. Her name is Poppy and she’s 11 months old. Yes, she’s as cute and sweet as she looks!

I’ve been thinking a lot about this blog and what I could do to make it more connected to who I am as a writer, and as a person, and yet still keep it relevant for the friends who have been part of this blog for many years (you know who you are). Even before I took the hiatus I felt like the blog had become stale, and I struggled to find new topics to post about. I needed the distance to make sense of what I wanted to accomplish here. When I started this blog in 2010, I did exactly what the blogging experts said I should. I tried to make myself an expert in something (I never figured out what). I wrote about writing, publishing, and editing since that’s what everyone else was writing about. I wrote how-to posts and Top 10 posts and every other kind of post the experts said you had to write to gain followers, which, according to the same experts, was the main goal of all this blogging. And then one day I ran out of things to blog about.

Writing is the way I make sense of the world. Specifically, writing historical fiction is how I make sense of the world. For me, there’s something about connecting the dots between the past to the present, the then to the now where we can see how we’ve developed, or not, at certain points along the way. It’s like that old saying–the more things change the more they stay the same. People haven’t really changed, and I find that fascinating as I learn about different periods in history. I had lost my way in this blog because I was trying to do what I saw other writers doing and that didn’t work for me.

I realized that I forgot to write about what was important to me. Not to others. To me. I started this blog by writing about my historical novels, my historical research, and historical novels I had read. The reason I started The Copperfield Review in 2000 was because I knew that historical fiction was one of the most beloved literary genres, yet 17 years later there still aren’t many places where you can focus on historical novels. The hiatus turned out to be a good thing because it forced me to sit back and reconsider what this blog was to me. Maybe I know a little more about writing now than I did when I first started this blog. And maybe I’m a little older (actually, I am definitely a little older) and a little more patient now. I’ve been working toward doing what is meaningful and leaving the noise behind. I’ll still have things to say about publishing, editing, and other oddities, but I’ll be going back to what I love most–writing about historical fiction.

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5 thoughts on “Back to Basics: Writing About Historical Fiction

  1. I did see your submission, Rosemary, and it’s going into the new edition. We have so many submissions to go through because we didn’t have a winter edition, but we are working through them and our new edition should be up on Saturday!

  2. Thank you Rosemary! It has been a challenging semester, and I’m glad it’s nearly over, but it’s also great to see the progress I’ve made. This week we’re putting the new Copperfield together, so I still have plenty to do!

    I think keeping a blog interesting is a big challenge. I simply ran out of interesting topics about writing and publishing. I’ll still always write about writing, but I’d like to try to expand my horizons a bit. And like you, I’m lucky to have the time to keep up one blog.

    This will be an experiment so we’ll see how it goes.

  3. Welcome back, Meredith! Well done on the progress you’ve made towards your PhD and on the sales of your books.

    I too struggle with the blog-for-every-topic problem and a few months ago I started a reading blog (Dear Reader), which is currently very lonely and unfollowed. However, it’s still good to write reviews of what I’ve read, because it makes me analyse what I’m reading properly, rather than just think ‘I liked/didn’t like’ that. I would like to write travel and cooking blogs too but I don’t have the time to keep 2 blogs going, let alone 4. I note that a lot of (supposedly) writing blogs also include the writer’s everyday life and thoughts and, often, politics or social comment.

    Btw, I’m now writing and blogging under my real name, Rosemary Johnson (not Charlie Britten)… in case you’re wondering who I am.

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