Now, I don’t think that’s true, but it’s what Cap Garland told Almanzo Wilder when Almanzo was trying to decide if he was going to fetch Laura Ingalls from where she was boarding with a rather miserable family, teaching her first school. Laura was a good deal younger than Almanzo, but in the drives, ten miles each way, they had started to become acquainted. Laura only had two more weeks to live away from home, was just sixteen years old, earning money to keep her sister Mary in a school for the blind. But the family with whom she resided had no warmth, and the mother hated Laura, also hated living on a barren cold prairie. All Laura wanted each weekend was to return to her loving family, but during a Dakota winter, only one man could make that happen, her future husband Almanzo.
Almanzo Wilder didn’t fear cold temperatures. He and Cap Garland had saved the town a few years back, going for wheat when seven months of blizzards stopped the trains from delivering provisions to the homesteaders. This was from where I thought Cap’s quote came; I considered this last night, having reached 53,714 words on Kelly Tremane yesterday, and feeling like dry burnt toast. My plan was to get to 50K on that story then return to The Richard Brautigan Club. Only twice have I not completed two novels for NaNo, my first year and in 2008, when we were moving house. Yes, I carry some pride about that, and while I can’t write concurrently, I sure as heck can accumulate 100K plus whatever else comes along.
But last night I was weary, not sure if it was also due to my stupid 49ers eking a tie with St. Louis, 24-24. All I knew last night was I got to 50K, nearly 54K to be precise. There is another book to edit, one to read for a friend. Goodness knows I have more than enough to keep me busy without writing yet another novel that probably won’t amount to anything.
Then as I lay quietly, my husband starting to snore, I thought of that quote: God hates a coward. Actually, I was thinking God hates a quitter, but was it from a song, a novel, a movie; who said it and in what context? Took me about ten minutes, and while I wasn’t completely correct, assuming it was Cap and Almanzo going for the wheat, it was from a Little House On The Prairie book! Not The Long Winter, which isn’t one of my faves, blizzards and twisting hay into sticks to keep warm and going hungry blah blah blah. It was from These Happy Golden Years, which is one of my beloved childhood stories, mostly about Laura and Almanzo falling in love. And one of the reasons they do is because on a very cold Friday afternoon, the temperature already at forty degrees below Fahrenheit, Cap Garland said to Almanzo, “God hates a coward.” Almanzo went for Laura, shocking not only the family she needed to flee, but her own. Laura was cold, but no harm had been done. Later, on Sunday, as Almanzo takes her back, she thanks him, learning the beginnings of his feelings for her. Also about Cap’s statement; she asks Almanzo if he went for her because of that challenge.
Almanzo answered that no, he just thought that Cap was right.
As I said, I don’t believe that God hates anyone. But I do think he appreciates it when, speaking just for myself, I close my eyes and dare to trust, be it for another 50,000 words or if he asked me to trek across a butt-cold frozen prairie. So as soon as I publish this post, I’ll pull out that manuscript that hasn’t been touched in days, read over the last chapter, then look at the notes, play the tune for the day (“Truce” by Jars Of Clay), and see what happens. I’m inspired by two elements: 1) that working on The Richard Brautigan Club, for whatever purpose, is what I am suppose to do.
And 2) the kick in my backside came from a novel I loved as a child, one quote pulled from the depths of my gray matter. While it was from a book I did just reread a couple of years ago (for another novel, no less), I assumed it was from one I haven’t read since I was… ten, twelve maybe? Maybe. And maybe while I might not think there’s any merit in the novel I will finish (come blizzards, lame football teams, or marauding hummingbirds), maybe there is. Maybe one day I’ll publish The Richard Brautigan Club and perhaps one day, probably after I’m long dead (just like Laura Ingalls Wilder was when I first read her books), someone will read it, then tuck some innocuous sentence in their gray matter. Then they’ll become a writer, and write some ridiculous, overly-long blog post.
Or something like that; inspiration blah blah blah…