Tuesday, October 26, 2010. . .
THE WRITING. . .An exchange of emails with my editor – she is still hard at work on my manuscript while I visit cemeteries – reminds me of the importance of timing in a work of fiction.
I use a blank calendar, one I designed (okay, I drew lines with the handy-dandy Word tool). It has large day spaces; one month fills one page. I print it off on colored paper. Then, in pencil, I make notations about the story.
I begin with the month. (Weather and climate most often impacts the characters, though less often in certain areas of the world. This probably comes from my Midwest roots where everyday plans revolve around the weather. Clothing? Allow time for driving in snow? Umbrella? Boots? Avoid flooding river and creeks? Get to the grocery store in order to stock up before the ice storm hits? Make alternate plans for the picnic in case those clouds unload?)
Then I fill in the blanks. In this month on this date, the story begins. Pivotal scenes are noted as I write them to remind me that such-and-such happened two weeks ago so I best not refer to “three weeks ago” later. (This is what Smart Editor is taking care of.) I also include “off-scene” info to remind me what is going on that affects my characters but that we readers don’t need to “see.”
Nothing happens in a vacuum.
THE DETAILS. . .Two more cemeteries and mausoleum visits with my mom. I have concern that this is too much foisting of details upon her. At 83 she wants to make these decisions so that we children do not have to later, but it is overwhelming for her.
We did enjoy driving through the oldest cemetery here, which she knew as a child and which my sister and I would explore with her and my grandmother (who lived across the street). Interesting bit of trivia: Charles Dickens’ son is buried here. Tim and I found the site when we were teenagers and dating. The man passed away in Davenport, Iowa (as did Cary Grant who is not buried here).
We entered one mausoleum – which we liked much better than yesterday’s because it smelled nicer and there was a sense of peace – and recognized several names etched in the granite. It was like a pleasant bumping into old friends. One couple had lived next door to us when our son was born. They adored him.
The cemetery man was not delightful like the woman at the other one. Oddly, though, this made the whole scene feel less like a business that needs to make money and more like well, yes, death is a part of life and this is what it costs. There were no handwritten prices with discount percentages and warnings of imminent increases.