Oh Dear… it has been more than two weeks since I posted in this poor neglected blog. I often say that the name, “Changes in our Lives” is so appropriate for me at the age I am now because the past ten years have been topsy-turvy in almost every way. And the Corona Virus pandemic has served to make them more so.
I bet most non-writers are unaware that a lot of authors choose stressful periods to start a new project. I do, because writing is an escape. Immersing myself in the story means that I get to take a break from the reality of COVID 19. My characters have dreams and moments of despair. They get to eat whatever they want and not get fat (unless I need to punish them a bit)
Sometimes they fall in love, or in lust, and back to Square One in a matter of a couple of chapters. They can be as rich and famous as Queen Elizabeth or as beautiful as Sophia Loren. But most are ordinary people who have an extraordinary experience. Such is the case with my group of beguiling individuals. In my attempt to make them as real as possible, I learn about a whole gamut of facts. For example, one of my leading men is a sheep rancher. I had to learn a lot about these animals.
Now don’t stop reading. This is interesting, or at least I think it is.
People who mindlessly follow others are often described as “sheep”. But is this ever a case of mistaken identity. Sheep are highly intelligent animals. Within minutes of their birth, new-born lambs can stand and walk with their flock. They have to keep up because they will literally die if they are not with other sheep. Their socialization is integral to their survival.
Depending on the richness of the grasses and other plants, an acre of land can support 2 – 4 sheep. So lots of space is required for a large flock.
Sheep can recognize up to 50 fellow sheep faces and remember them for two years. Sheep are able to learn their way through complicated weather and terrain. Sheep use plants and other substances to prevent or treat disease, and they teach their babies to do the same.
Just like humans, sheep feel afraid, angry, bored, sad and happy. They have both emotional and cognitive reactions to what happens around them. Those who know sheep will tell you that some of them are pessimists and others are optimists.
Sheep form strong bonds with one another. They are able to recognize and distinguish between different emotional expressions… calm, startled, and fearful… they can also identify these emotions in human faces.
So where am I going with all this? Is my central protagonist a loner like the young shepherd mentioned in the memorable “Angela’s Ashes”, by Frank McCourt? Or is he modeled after the psychopath in Thomas Harris’, “Silence of the Lambs”? Or might the plot be similar to a tale by another Joanna (Cannon), about two young girls in “The Trouble with Goats and Sheep”?
Hm-m-m-m, you’ll need to wait a year or more to find out. But as the chapters take shape, I’ll preview a couple of them. My last book, “Circles”, a family memoir about my Dutch aunt and her bravery during WWII, was published in 2015, so I am excited to be working on this.
And I have the pandemic to thank for the gift of time, a commodity in short supply during normal times. You remember of course what they say about ill winds… ´tis a rare one that brings no good at all.