It is done…
…not really. 51,000 words and many more to go.
What NaNoWriMo did for me this year is get me started and kept me to writing the tedious scenes. Tedious because they were “not the story” but needed to explain the story, to develop the characters and establish the time period.
The exciting scenes come next. So does strategy for revision(s). Plural because there’s always more than one revision. What I have is bare bones. What I need is more research, feedback and fleshing out. Then onto flow and next to accuracy and correctness. Whew!
A book is never done in one draft. A book isn’t necessarily done in 30 days or 50,000 words. Whether you hit the target or not, pause to take good measure. Goals are not necessarily meant to be achieved, but to mark our progress. Celebrate. Commiserate. And tomorrow morning you get up and write.
Interviewer: How much rewriting do you do?
Hemingway: It depends. I rewrote the ending of Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, 39 times before I was satisfied.
Interviewer: Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had stumped you?
Hemingway: Getting the words right.
~Ernest Hemingway, The Paris Review Interview, 1956
One last peek at Rock Creek:
“She needed a lesson, and you too.”
Cob came back and sat next to her. Sarah looked at him. “Me?”
“Nancy Jane’s been putting fool thoughts in that gentle head of yours.”
“Nancy Jane is my friend! No one befriends me, Cob. No, one. I had hoped it would be different out here, but this place is so empty. Nancy Jane is my friend.”
“If she’s your friend then why is she trying to come between you and me?”
Sarah didn’t know how to answer him. It was true. Nancy Jane thought Sarah had ability to set up her own businesses in a bigger city. Maybe even Denver. “She’s only encouraging me to use my skills. Maybe I have dreams of my own.”
“Oh? And what are your plans for these dreams?”
Sarah took a deep breath. “You owe me money, too.”
Cob chuckled. “Oh, my what a stake you have in those two notes. I might be owed more than I have but by God I have that fine amount to pay you. How far you think it’ll get you on your path to dreams?”
“Denver! Whoa now, that’s a big place. What will you do in Denver?”
“Don’t be hurtful, Cob. I can account elsewhere.”
“Elsewhere. You need a dose of reality, Rosebud. You head out to Denver with your money in your purse, and I’ll even buy your coach fare, you’ll have maybe two years of squalid living if you don’t go buying up all the calicoes and doodads you see. And you can go about the place for two years knocking on doors for a job and there won’t be none hiring you.”
“You don’t know that. Accounting is a valuable skill.”
“It sure is, Rosebud. And it’s a man’s skill. No credible business will hire some woman they don’t even know. You father taught you because he had need. I keep you because I have need of you, too.” He hugged her shoulders.
“I could work for a company that knows me,” she said softly.
“Like Russel, Majors and Waddel.”
Sarah stiffened. Was he teasing her or willing to set her free? “Perhaps.”
Cob roared with laughter, slapping his knee with the arm that had been hugging her. This time Sarah stood up, but he grabbed her hand to keep her close. “First off, do you know why they are not making good on their note to me?”
Sarah shook her head.
“Mr. Russel was arrested Christmas Eve for embezzling bonds meant for the Indian tribes.”
“He’s in jail?”
“The government let him out of prison when the states began seceding in April. You might say that Mr. Russel is the one man the war of the states saved.”
“What of the other partners?”
“Mr. Waddel is struggling. I imagine Mr. Majors is praying. I need to get paid my gold. Paper is going to mean nothing soon.”
“Not even the employees are getting their pay, Cob.”
“Sonofa! For how long?”
“I heard that was why the rider Fry quit end of May and joined up with Union forces. Nancy Jane says they haven’t received June funds. Horace wasn’t even able to get supplies they need.”
“That’s it. Tomorrow I’m cleaning up Rock Creek station. They are gone!”
“Please Cob, where will Nancy Jane go? Horace might not take her if he loses his job. He might have to return to Ohio.”
“He’s not going to lose his job. I’m just going to evict them. They can ride back to Brownsville. I’ll install Gordon as agent for the station. They can run their stages, but I’ll confiscate their livestock until I get my gold.”
Sarah couldn’t hold back the tears. “It’s just hopeless!”
“What? What are these damned tears about?”
“You took everything from her, punishing her Pa like that. Nancy Jane is not like other women.”
“She’s like every other women and the punishment was hers so she’d know it!”
“She was free.”
“Free? What does that even mean, Rosebud?”
“Nancy Jane can ride horses as fearless as a man and she’s not had to settle for marrying and she has a sense of not being hindered by what others think.”
Cob snorted. “Sure, she can sit a saddle as steady as a man, even hunt and take care of her gun. But what use is that to a woman? How is she free? Her Pa’s a drunk, her man can leave her without any sense of obligation and because she don’t care what others think others won’t help her.”
Tears flowed freely. “And thanks to you, she now knows that.”
“Good! There’s nothing she’s told you that’s been useful. She’s had you believing things that aren’t possible. I was there when she asked Mr. Waddel if he’d hire you as accountant.”
“You were? When?”
“Back in Brownsville. When the company was flush with federal funds.”
“What did he say.”
“Said his company doesn’t hire women.”
“I see.” Sarah slumped back onto the bed. She wiped her tears. No point in crying. She knew all along. She wasn’t going to head off to Denver. She wasn’t going to make her way in this world. It was a man’s world and that was Cob’s point of brutally punishing Joseph Holmes in front of Nancy Jane. Cob could do it, her father would suffer it and there was nothing Nancy Jane could do. Cob broke her. He took everything she had. Her sense of independence, her freedom, her security.
“Nancy Jane will learn her place. All women do, Rosebud.” He kissed her and pushed her back on the bed.