Pronounced Vee-heel’s Vigil, this piece is the first novel I have ever written (and perhaps my last unless I retire soon!). You see, in November 2010, I took the NaNoWriMo challenge. What is the NaNoWriMo Challenge? To write a 50,000 word novel in one month. And I did it with several days to spare (phew).
Knowing that I would head to New Mexico for a six-week research trip to ready myself to conduct some more research for a book that highlights the Cruzate grants, I seized this opportunity to write about the most influential and pivotal persona in my research in the 19th century–Donaciano Vigil. By writing and historical fiction novel, I could explore creatively the history and relationships behind the creation and appearance of the Cruzate grants, realize where the holes existed in my research, but have fun doing it. It worked! I could easily have continued for another 15,000 words, but I had to call it quits.
Why else did I do this? The Cruzate grants are such a mystery and documentary evidence only carries the story so far. As a result, my research (and all those who attempted to study this before), has many unanswered and perhaps unanswerable questions. I can answer those questions in a novel.
I once had a conversation with Donald Fixico about research and novel-writing. He, too, has written more than one novel. Often times, research is a frustrating thing and it helps to be able to make up answers to our unanswered queries. If for no other reason than for us to be able to sleep at night because we have “solved” one of the mysteries, albeit in a novel. I’m glad to hear that I am not alone.
Perhaps some day I will publish this novel. In the meantime, it will sit until I finish my Cruzate book.