Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday Musings: Rejection

Well, it's finally happened. I've received a rejection that punched me in the gut and left me in tears. Last Tuesday, the 10th. A beautiful evening with a great meal cooked by my very talented brother, that I wasn't able to truly enjoy because I was so upset.

This is where having other writer friends comes in so handy. I was able to cry it out among friends who knew exactly how I felt because they've all been there.

The email stung in a big way because it felt like my love of history and my state was being rejected, that I didn't know what I was talking about. Of course that's not true, it just means I failed to do all of my job as a writer and sufficiently set up my very unique story in my proposal. I've got some work to do on the historical background section.

I'm writing about the French Creole culture, a very unique group of people in a very unique state. Where interracial marriage--though illegal during the time I'm writing about--was still quite common. So common in fact that in 1855 the state supreme court felt it necessary to expand the 1825 statute banning black-white marriage within the state, to include black-white marriages conducted out of state. When the 1825 law was passed the French Creoles just went to Paris or a French Caribbean island and got married anyway.

This was almost entirely an upper-class thing too. Lower classes couldn't afford to go to Paris to get married or afford the legal costs to protect their children. There were also Catholic priests who would perform mixed race marriages and they were recognized by the Church. Just not the state. But in a heavily Catholic state, the Church's certificate carried as much social weight as a state-issued marriage license. This is also the same state where minister-conducted slave weddings were considered normal. You don't find that in most other states.

Was life hard for these couples? You betcha it was hard! Nothing came easy and the men had to pay special attention to their wills to make sure their children and wife were taken care of. Interracial marriage became legal again in 1866 and remained legal until the first set of Jim Crow laws. Here in Louisiana the ones pertaining to marriage were repealed in the 60's. Decades ahead of many other states. Alabama only repealed their ban within the last five years and became the last state to legalize black-white marriage.

During all of the 19th century interracial marriage was technically legal in South Carolina. I say technically because it wasn't specifically forbidden until the Jim Crow laws. My heroine is from South Carolina, the one other state in the country with a significant, free mulatto population that freely mingled with whites and had nearly all the same rights. Her backstory was carefully crafted to make it natural for her to fall in love with a mulatto man.

The interracial element is a crucial part of this story. I knew it would be a tough sell when I started it. In my head. I didn't know how much it would hurt the first I was rejected because of the interracial element.

But how else can I use the yummy Shemar Moore as a character template?

3 comments :

  1. I'm sorry about your rejection. They sting...I know. Give it some time, learn from it, and go out and make the story better. I have no doubt, with your passion for history, you'll turn a rejection into a treasure!

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    1. Thanks, Loree. I've already taken some of her advice and completely redone the comps section of my proposal. She was 100% right about it not being up to snuff.

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  2. I grew up in a mixed race marriage. I really, really, REALLY hate racism!!!!!

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