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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visiting the eastern uplands

image-cover-mm-visting

double-click to enlarge and read the fine print!

 

The embarrassing admission:

The editor in charge of cover text asked for a back-of-the-book description to surmount its blurb by Jake Meador.  I chose part of something from the book I particularly liked—heavily influenced by Annie Dillard. By JRR Tolkien. In the way of metaphoric memoir, the description was written in first person.  The editor’s reply? It must be third-person description. Being low energy, I gave them what you see in this cover image. And …I just wanted that passage! Here is the original unedited from inside the book:

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B. Pond

treasuries chambers

the view from swan’s ledge

 

Yes, am continuing to re-read We Took to the Woods by Louise Dickinson Rich. It’s still propped up on the kitchen table. I’m not sure I want the book to end… just yet anyway. I’d like to quote her on her experience with “B Pond,” because it shows that facet of this book which I may not have well expressed in the earlier post. I’ve never seen B. Pond. I’d like to–ever since first seeing that name on the map. Rich experiences enchanted days, her reward for persisting in this enchanted visit to B Pond, year after year. She loves this pond. And I can identify with that in my own Maine experience.

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Canada, Maine

 

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 8.59.24 AM

It’s late and silent, up here above the little village in our town. The parade, with its historical legacy of our town’s founding, passed by many hours ago in bright morning. Our neighbors have all gone, the few houses of my little neighborhood are empty and dark down below. Everyone’s gone to a fireworks display in the next town, and Boots—the old dog—and I are winding up Deer Hill Road. On the flat up there in the dark I, too, might see the fireworks.

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Easter Sunday going home on the Gore Road

By the pond

By the pond

 

Now the road is sinking down toward a glacially carved valley, mute and somber collection of browns, overarched with blue. The long descent is daunting. I hesitate inwardly while keeping my legs in a forward motion downward. Descent, in this tired stiff body, on sore tendons, is little to complain of. It’s the return up steep hills I resist.

Then I remember the esker. Thinking now that I might write about this Easter trek, I decide that I want that esker in my experience.

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snow-making

My second memory is of snow-making. It was dark. We were in the stairway. Hands of giants were dressing me in heavy clothing as my big brother (two years older) was telling me about this wonderful white cold flaky stuff that fell from the sky. God made this white cold flaky stuff, he said. My brother was very excited, telling me about masses of delicate little pieces of webwork falling and falling, and that this was its own (new to me) particular season. He went into a long and deep analysis of how God accomplished this:

The band of precipitation that is associated with a warm front is often extensive, forced by weak upward vertical motion of air over the frontal boundary, which condenses as it cools off and produces snowfall within an elongated band, which is wide and stratiform, meaning falling out of nimbostratus clouds.

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Surprised by Maine

Christmas Eve

JOY!

You may think this post will connect in some way with CS Lewis. There are a number of “surprised by” titles in Amazon, including, at the top of the lists, Lewis’s own “Surprised by Joy.” In other titles we find authors surprised by Hope, by Oxford, Motherhood, Christ, Sin, Forever, Laughter, Healing, Truth and other wonders. So I’m following a Lewisian established tradition with this entry’s title.

I do consider Maine a very surprising state—whether as being or place.  I leave these as imaginative suggestions. A surprising thing happened on our road Tuesday, three days before Christmas. I won’t say what it was. Or I will say that it was out of the traditional character of Maine.

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