Saturday, August 18, 2012

Point of View Crossroad

Every story goes through a transition, a fork in the road decision making time. Many writers, mostly newbies, park themselves at that fork and allow the weeds to engulf them. This newbie is currently in the midst of those thorny bramble bushes. 

While I've been writing for years, this is my first novel attempt, hence the newbie label. The story has gone round and round in my brain forever and the characters never cease their ramblings. Last year, yes, it's been a year, when I plunked down at the direction junction, they became silent. Now, they are screaming again. Here's is my current writing dilemma:

Novel Synopsis: "In Search of Mama" is the story of Dottie Stroebe, a 1st generation German-American girl, with an illegitimate son, who falls in love with a carny man. Clayton is a one-legged Indian half-breed, fifteen years Dottie's senior. They marry, have another child and travel the circus circuit another four years before settling into a nondescript life in Chicago. When Dottie passes in 2010, a strange elderly southern gentlewoman with the same last maiden name appears at the funeral, gives Dottie's daughter, Marie, a letter that is an invitation to visit her in NC, and saying she's known Marie's mother since she was little. Fifty-years old, with nothing holding her anywhere, Marie packs up and leaves Chicago shortly after. She finds Louise in a tidy log-cabin behind a dilapidated plantation. Even though Louise has extended the invitation, she is not happy to see Marie. As Marie tries to learn what role this mysterious woman played in the life of her mother, a family story unfolds that carries us from 19th century Appalachia to the plains of Oklahoma in the year it became territory, to 20th century railroad yards of Pennsylvania to Chicago from the 1940s to current. It tells of passion, racism and family secrets hushed through generations."

The story, some 35,000 words, is from the daughters point of view. In the middle of 2011 NaNoWriMo, this character became flat and uninteresting. I got the sense that Dottie wanted it told from her point of view. I stopped to ponder the situation and ended up mired in the muck. Do I start over as Dottie's story? Do I push through as Marie's story? Do I continue on only changing point of view? Do I work on flushing out Marie's character? Both are poking and prodding for some decision to move forward in some direction. 

In the spring I planted sunflowers around the garden, around the chicken coop, and around the begonia pot in the middle of the yard. The chicken coop sunflowers never even sprouted. The garden flowers blossomed and are now home to bees and butterflies alike. The begonia sunflowers are stunted - only a foot tall - but bright yellow blooms. They remind me of my stunted story and the beauty that lies even in the immaturity. Although, it doesn't give me an answer. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Trifextra - Triple Dipple

On to Trifextra, where this weekend we're borrowing from the musical world.  Noted blues musician, Lead Belly, was quoted in Three Uses of the Knife by David Mamet as saying:
You take a knife, you use it to cut the bread, so you'll have strength to work; you use it to shave, so you'll look nice for your lover; on discovering her with another, you use it to cut out her lying heart.
He uses one object, a knife, to flesh out a character and to tell a story in a basic three-part dramatic structure.  We want the same from you.  Give us 33 words (exactly) that tell us three different uses for one object.  But don't just tell us that a can opener can be used to 1) open cans, 2) open beer bottles and 3) break a window in case of a fire.  Tell us a story, like Lead Belly did, if you can.

Only my second time working this, I've written three different pieces:


She flicked the Bic

and the ritual releasing candle glowed before          the Bic torched his wretched belongings
in the dirt firepit. Only the red tip of a
Bic lit cigarette remained 
in the blackness.


Warm water nourished the corn and tomatoes;
warm water washed away fertile earth from beneath chipped nails,
and flowed across the bathroom floor tinged with the blood of loneliness.


Golden hair waved from windows of a red VW puttering down Ventura highway.
It transported a collage of beaming hope across miles.
In the distance, a sienna beetle cradles the wild. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Ethical Wills

What is an Ethical Will?

An Ethical Will is a document of video passing wisdom, knowledge, and cultural information to the next generation. It is usually prepared by the elderly or terminally ill. It is a living, loving, spiritual statement to the future. It is your legacy.

Why is an Ethical Will important?

In today’s fast-paced world where things are changing in the moment, it’s easy to lose track of one another. It can also be difficult for the current generation to understand where their traditions and heritage comes from. A family may have lived in one geographical area for centuries, yet that same area is completely different from when a grand or great-grandparent was growing up. If someone is facing their mortality, sharing their hopes and dreams with their loved ones can be therapeutic. Consider it a love letter to your family or just to posterity—the lived experience of one helping others.

What is your legacy? What are you leaving for future generations? If you’ve lived, are at a turning point, or facing a life-changing challenge, you should document your life. It can even be done virtually with a just a bit of computer knowledge. If you have Skype, you can complete your Ethical Will workshop from anywhere in the world.  

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Best Movie Ever - Vertigo

The garden needs weeding
            My head is spinning
The vegetables need picking
            My head is spinning
The grass needs cutting
            My head is spinning
Round and round and round I go