|Street Sculpture, Memphis TN|
This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit two states I’ve never seen before. As it turned out, I also saw a third, by mistake.
This trip was occasioned when my husband (a musician and enthusiastic researcher) received an invitation by two libraries in the first two states to give talks about The Beatles last tour in the United States. As I am the resident techie, I also get to go and this time, I had a good reason on my own account to research my novel in progress, Pavane for Miss Marcher.
Pavane takes place in New England, some years after the end of the American Civil War, or the War
|Courthouse, Oxford, MS|
In fact, when I mentioned that I was writing a post-ACW novel, one colleague told me I “had better be on the right side of the story.” There is no more red flag to a writer than the injunction to tell “the right story”. Since there are always at least two sides, the declaration that there is a “right” side implies censorship.
|Island Queen on Mississippi River|
Solzhenitsyn certainly understood this two-sided wrangle between one side and the other, in his case the State and the Individual. When I was a student, the Individual was heroic and therefore,
Solzhenitsyn was presented to students as a champion of the rights of the individual. In less than two generations, with a change in the political nature of the State, it is the Power of the State over the Freedom of the Individual which is favored.
Therefore, saying there is a right side of history must always depend on which side has the upper hand. The obligation of all writers is to make the greatest effort to present what is essentially “true,” regardless of being “right” as in “acceptable.” Conflict is the meat, bread and potatoes of the writer’s paintbox. History is at the mercy of the victors and those with the wherewithal to revise history to suit their agenda.
I've now had the opportunity to experience Southern life in ten states and, without exception, I have fallen in love with the people, their civility, generosity, intelligence and kindness.