Last November and December when I was in Texas before moving to Washington, I spent some time with my grandmother, learning to make the cream pies she’s been bringing to family events for as long as I can remember. Part of my goal for the time was to learn to make the pies — part of my goal was to hear her tell stories. Man, does she love to tell stories (you can read some of those stories in Passing Down Pie Heritage, a new article I recently had published at Texas Cooking).
I’ve heard quite a few stories from her over the years, some of them related to the time she and my grandfather spent in West Texas during their early years of marriage. I’ve also heard quite a bit about that time from my dad and my aunt, especially in preparation for my West Texas camping trip with friends last October. And especially since my aunt and her husband had been diligently scanning and labeling the 800+ family slides from the 1950s, many of them taken in West Texas.
West Texas and those slides have hovered in the background of my imagination for months. I’ve looked at the photos, mesmerized by the scenes they depict. Cowboys and wide open landscapes.
My dad and his siblings as shiny faced kids in 1950s clothes and hair styles.
My grandmother sitting on a swing in a park, the background opening wide behind her.
My grandfather working out in the oil field with his survey crew buddies. (The colors on this photo haven’t been altered — that’s what the slide looked like when they scanned it!)
Those slides are precious to me because they hold family — and they hold the land that made us who we are, the land that captivated me last October. The slides are also precious as a glimpse into that era and that place. West Texas in the 1950s is the same time and place that shaped George W. and Laura Bush, and I was also captivated by Laura Bush’s descriptions of it in her autobiography.
And so, I’ve felt the stirring to do more with the slides and with my family’s stories than let them sit and simmer under the surface of my imagination. My grandparents, well, they’re not young, and if I’m going to document their stories of that time period and put them together with the images they made, I believe the time is now. Funny how this idea took full shape once I moved across the country to the opposite border, but I also believe this scenario isn’t a mistake. It will take some careful planning, careful budgeting, and most likely an upcoming project fundraising campaign on Kickstarter, but I think it can all come together to do the research, organizing, and writing of my first nonfiction book here in the Tri-Cities area, with a few trips back to Texas.
Another thing I’m sure of as I type out this idea on this blog (making something public is so very scary!) is that I need to spend some focused time making sure I’m headed in the right direction with this project. First, I want to seek God deliberately on this issue — I’ve been doing that all along, but I want to step back and make absolutely sure. Also, I want to spend some deliberate creative time on the first stages of the project, including what the scope of it will be and what it will take to get the funding. I’m at the point of wrapping up my novel revisions and sending that book out in search of a publisher — now I’m figuring out how to move forward with the next project.
In order to do that, I feel like I need to take a social media break. A bit of a fast, if you will. I’m not throwing off social media for good, just for a while. I want to use the time that I normally spend each day (and it’s spread throughout the day, not just in one blob) to be quiet, to be creative, to pray, to make sure I’m hearing things correctly. I feel so inundated with information from the internet most days, and I contribute my own voice to share in that cacophony. I need to step away for a while and not post or read blogs, Facebook, or twitter. I don’t know how long I will do this, at least a week or two. And hopefully when I come back, I’ll have great news to share with you about the next big project and how you can be involved!
Until then, email me if you need me…