fiction: rural town community roles

After leaving Ohio we moved a dozen times and finally got a home of our own in Maine. We need a self-cleaning house, because the down side is maintenance and cleaning. The upside is everything else. Or, we could hire a domestic.  Yes they work here in rural Maine. But they need to earn a living so that’s out for us.

oral history transcribed

How do you create a cast of characters? Start with societal roles and extrapolate with details related and unrelated to these roles. For instance, a writer has in mind a role of doctor in the community. Or shop-keeper, volunteer, lumberman, domestic, deputy, journalist, pastor, server, selectman, club-woman, and other roles, all helpful in developing characters. These roles or jobs are archetypal, starting writers on the road to peopling their novels. If you start with these in earnest, the muse may suggest quirks and morals, humors and tastes, suitable for these roles…or even carrying them off in new directions. You can also add in tiny bits you know from personal experience. So you’ll be an artisanal character quilter, taking tiny patches of incidents from life and using in mosaic to make these characters’ lives.

There are reasons for choosing roles aside from sub-creation of character. One of these is thematic.  A major theme of THE GOD’S CYCLE is small rural towns in transition.

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The Overgrown Road

I’ve got cleaning! No, there is no smiley. I’ve got gardening! (okay, bit of smiley). So here’s something past. In Maine Metaphor R. is called Allen. (In case you are wondering.)

As pictured in the Press Herald, Paul opposes casinos in the county. 

“The Overgrown Road” is the name of a chapter part of which tells of our visit up to Paul’s place. If one is not possessed of a rugged four-wheel-drive vehicle, one huffs and puffs her way up his hill. As we neared the top, Allen and I saw the stone and cedar-shake house through white spindly birches. From here it looks like a modern spacious Middle American home. But, as we gained the summit, a difference appeared: His stonework is rustic, made of glacial till from his gravel pit. It’s not the precious professional masonry found in upscale neighborhoods. The sunny house, sitting above the surrounding garden plot, and circled by the pale green of spring trees, had its roof raised by friends and neighbors on a Saturday morning.

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happy b’day, friend.

Happy B’day Friend!

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
   This tree was pulled from the woods when we first moved here. About three feet tall, very skinny. The soil was too dry that year. I had to cut the top. When it’s budding we think of JRRT’s poetic beech candle flames.
   I’m not sure I agree with the part of CSL’s quote before the semicolon.  But that second part!  Yes, ever.

 

 

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the maine hermit

Here’s included just enough of the hermit’s story to tantalize you. He lived, solitary, within sound of the occasional lawnmower and motorboats plying waters on the pond below his camp. The author of The Stranger in the Woods, Mr. Finkel, called Christopher Knight’s meeting with people “collisions”— as Anne Morrow Lindbergh used this word, I noticed while reading her journals. Collision.

We went biking uphill and downhill through woods, over sand deposits on trails — sands left by the glaciers. It’s the trail I think of as my free will trail. Sometimes on the trail I think about free will.

 

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rife with life

image of night smelting from wikimedia

Spring in Maine is mud. We don’t call it spring, but mud season. It is mud and road surface load limits written in bright orange; it is frost heaves and more mud. There is mud, congealed or stiff, in ridges and ruts at the local airport. The light planes, clearly things of the air, can hardly negotiate the rugged unpaved ramp.

I pulled out in the Subaru, driving slowly past the yard next-door where the otherwise unemployed fishermen—laid off from the ski resort—were planting shrubs for their landlord in partial exchange for rent. There was a bit of yardwork and clean-up to be done after winter and, as I passed, the tall one displayed a large fish head. Grinning at me, he dropped it into the hole he had just dug for a flowering shrub.

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having begun…

Today I want to finish my thoughts on Patricia O’Donnell’s Waiting to Begin: A Memoir. She is director of creative writing at UMF.

Next week I hope to blog about a book on the Maine hermit. And I’ve blogged about Patricia’s novel, Necessary Places, elsewhere:

another of Patricia’s books

Anna will meet the necessary place in all its refreshed physicality, its familiar and friendly relations. But she is caring for her father—seven years stricken with Parkinson’s disease—as they travel. Yet there’s much more than a caregiving journey in this book. Here are relations with disconcerting surprises, and surprising resolutions to apparent betrayals. I find in this novel the ways we are all taken off guard, amazed, and caught red-handed—the clichés coming alive as we live them. . .   and vicariously experience them here anew as our own. Necessary Places is the book for it. And it is an extended often funny showing of what suffering, pain, and other unpleasant trials are for.

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