The story behind the story

What was going on while a writer crafts her story? What was the inspiration for the events unfolded or who were the characters “fashioned after?” That’s the real story behind the story and every good book has one! Some writers keep a journal or diary for each story they write. More fascinating to read after the book is completed, you can gain interesting insight into your creative process from the journal. I’m one of those writers. I like to see how daily activities influenced my work in progress.

So, what is Nardi Point’s story? Thank you for asking! (smile) I’ve had a long interest in discovering or uncovering objects secreted away, buried in the earth. I admit to burying a story out in the backyard one summer and wondering how long it would take to transform into a crinkled, yellowed pirate map. One week later, unable to wait, I dug it up and found it to be just wet.

Years later, I was in North Carolina, a state rich in prehistoric and historic artifacts (old things long buried and being dug up out of the ground). Excited, I volunteered at the State Archaeology office and was trained to handle and categorize selected artifacts under the watchful supervision of the experts. I handled ten thousand-year-old Native American stones smoothed for pounding, or sharpened for scraping, and sherds of pottery broken apart centuries ago. To actually hold a sherd in the palm of my hand that was created by indigenous peoples from that long ago was startling. The artifacts were found on a Piedmont farm and brought to archaeologists’ attention through the wisdom of the family who noticed the bits of history and recognized them for being something out of place and intriguing.

I thought about what would have happened had these artifacts been handled in a less than responsible way. The writer’s “What if” drill. You see, where the artifacts are found is called their “provenience.” What is found with them comes from the same time period and provides clues for what the object was and its use.  Archaeological resources are limited and irreplaceable, and should be left in the ground untouched until responsible and scientific methods can ensure no provenience information is lost during their removal.

This spring, a reality series, American Digger, follows a team across the nation which callously excavates archaeological artifacts using metal detectors and state of the art backhoes. Their goal is to sell the unearthed artifacts to collectors, then split the proceeds between the landowner and the team. Some of these sites contain unmarked human burials and skeletal remains. Their greed robs us all of the chance to understand and learn from our shared past.

Does your latest project have a story behind the story?

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