The Walkers

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As has been mentioned I'm working on a fiction project along with my non-fiction. Both are related to slavery and the Civil War, and both building off of much of what I've discussed here with you guys. One of the things that I think has worked here, from the perspective of long-form journalism, is opening the notebook and sharing with you guys the process. After some conversation with people who know better than me (Shout out Chris Jackson!) I've decided to open up the fiction too.


The scary thing is I'm much more confident about my nonfiction. But increasingly I've become less concerned with the pursuit of a kind of mathematical perfection, and more concerned with seeing the creative process as exploration. You have to take failure as part of the thing, as surely as the sailor must take fact of bad weather as part of his voyage. Consider these entry's a public log of my long journey.

Part of my own voyage has been trying to understand the antebellum South as a rigid society--not simply for slaves--but for everyone. Having achieved that to some extent, I'm trying to live there and imagine how individuals of varying gender and race and class might have experienced the thing. 

For now, let's part with the clunky academic language. Here is what we know: Sarah Walker is a young lady living in Virginia, somewhere in the vicinity of Albemarle County. Her family is German-American and the cream of the pre-Civil War planter class. She is also recently married. In the following selection she addresses her best friend Lillian and explains the pull of matrimony.

You can check out the first entry here.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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