Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Plantations, Letters, and More

I am, obviously, back from my trip to parts farther south in Virginia. Most of the time was spent in Colonial Williamsburg. Miss L and I are both geeks for historic sites, and even more so if they include living history style infotainment. Williamsburg, I guess, could be considered a Disney World of sorts for people like us. It's kind of an amazing thing, though. This weird little village putting up a veneer of 18th century so people of today will know how it used to be. Costumes, food, toys, and general bric-a-brac available for purchase at every turn, it's hard to beleive they can maintain their status as a non-proft organization.

On the way back, we stopped off at a few of the James River Plantations. There are 5 or 6 in total, all scattered on both side of the James River between Williamsburg and Richmond, with buildings dating as far back as the early 18th century. The weird part, though, is that some are still in use as homes. Even though we put the requested $2 each into the dropbox to look around, I still felt a little like a trespasser checking out the gardens and grounds for Westover. Mostly because the owners were hanging around in the back, doing things people normally do in their backyard. Unloading groceries from their minivan, playing with the dog. Their backyard just happens to sit behind a big 18th century mansion that overlooks the river. I recommend them, though. They are a little off the beaten path, but well worth the drive if you're in the area.

I returned home to find not one but two of those confusing letters writers sometimes receive. You know the ones I mean. The ones that say things like, "Good story, but no thanks. Hope to see other pieces from you in the future, though." One for a horror piece, the other for a piece a bit more literary.

It creates a very odd feeling. Encouraging, because they didn't just shoot off some form letter. The editors made the time to refer to specific things in the story (so I know they read it, I guess), and personalized it, making me feel like I accomplished something. Discouraging, though, because I didn't accomplish enough for their particular mag. Or at least not what they wanted.

So it goes. I'll keep shopping them around, and hope someone see the merits I know they have.



Jen said...

I love historial sites as well. Are you partial to the Civil War or American history in general? K and I went to Gettysburg back in June, but it's been years since I went to Williamsburg. Have you tried Mystic Seaport as well? A little touristy in some places, but one of the most educational trips I ever took.

It's funny; the more rejection letters I write for our submissions, the more skeptical I am of the ones I receive.

Hebdomeros said...

Any historical sites will do, actually. I've been to more Civil War sites, but that's mostly because there are so many in Virginia and Maryland. Sometimes I feel like you can barely go out the door without tripping over a wayward musketball, a rusting belt buckle, or part of a scabbard.

I haven't been to Gettysburg since high school. I remember it feeling all very weird, mostly because of the bizzes all geared towards tourism. But it was still fun.

I've been on the other side of rejection letters, too, so I try not to get too bent out of shape with them. They can be an overwhelming task for an editor.

Miss L said...

I think Gettysburg will be next. Can't speak much on rejection letters since I haven't written a complete story in longer than I'd care to admit to.

Jen said...

If you go, check out the electronic battlefield at the Visitor's Center. It's a couple of bucks but air conditioned and totally worth it. K thought it was the geekiest thing, but if you want a quick-and-dirty overview of the troop progressions during the battle in those three days, this exhibit is the best, far better than a bunch of maps in a book.

The best artifact collection is also found in the museum, and that part is free—uniforms, medicinal supplies, how the camps looked, even musical instruments the soldiers took along. Don't pay to go to the Soldier's museum—everything you need is at the Visitor's Center.

Hebdomeros said...

Thanks for the tip. Gettysburg in particular, and Pennsylvania in general, may indeed be the next trip. There are a few things I'd like to see in that state just on the other side of the Mason-Dixon line.