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. 

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