Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Field of Blood

It’s almost time for me to teach my Creative Writing class. I do not feel up to it today. I feel more or less like dirt. However, I have some very, very talented students this semester. We’re doing a “line edit” of one of my student’s chapters today. I write bits on the white board; the class does a collective edit. This can be an uncomfortable process, so I keep a tight rein on it. The goal if two fold. They learn to self-edit, and their grammar improves.

Be back in a sec … gotta find my socks.

… Back … did you miss me?

I notice that two of my students don’t understand the function of a chapter. We’ll concentrate on that today too. A chapter serves much the same function as does a paragraph. It contains one thought, one segment of the story, but as with a paragraph, it can contain various aspects of a thought. Two of my students make a new chapter for each change in action. If it comes next, it must be a new chapter. This is misguided.

I’ll get them to define a chapter today. (My oldest daughter just asked me why I was getting dressed for school … since it’s spring break. Sigh. Oh well, I’ll go shopping or something if I can get Shirley to go too.)

(I have a tooth ache. Owie)

I’ve been researching the area where the last bit of story four ends. I’ve picked a small town in Eastern Washington that I more or less know. Don’t ask me why. I’m not sure I know. Evil and good have to happen somewhere. This bit of redemption happens in a little town that sits on the Columbia River. It was incorporated in 1934 and has never grown much. It had a sister town that was some older but is now under the McNary Pool. At low water you can see some of the old foundations.

I’ve misstated things a bit. This isn’t the last scene. That takes place elsewhere, but it’s the last redemptive act, an act of love played out by a distant granddaughter. She doesn’t know what she really is. We seldom do know what we really are. I see people as the sum of all their ancestors. Our genetics are put in a huge jar and shaken, and we’re poured out. The mix can be happy or disastrous.

I’ll not discuss nature versus nurture. I’m writing this story, and I get to have it my way, thank you very much! But … what if our human heritage is not what we always think. My mom had this lovely chart showing our ancestors back for many generations. There’s a book that has pages and pages of charts and write ups. What if not all of these ancestors were really human or if they weren’t fully human. What possibilities would there be?

I see my main character sitting at her grandfather’s computer, reading his last wishes … and last revelations. She is sent on a modern-day quest. “Get comfortable, Rachael,” he writes. “There is a lot to read, and once you start you will not want to stop. Let me draw your attention to the deal cabinet. There is a cordial in there and a tin of cookies. They’re for you. You’ll enjoy the cordial.”

Devious man. What if that cordial is – not magic – but changing. What if it speeds to the front what might lay dormant in human genetics? What if it shows as a need for more of the drink? (If it’s not gong to work, perhaps you’ll hate it and drink no more.) What if she finds her back itching? Maybe there is a persistent rash. Later two long welts and some swelling. … What if other symptoms develop? Nice things, maybe and disturbing things show up?

I think there is going to be a play off of Gringot’s Bank. I like the Harry Potter books except for the last two. I also enjoy poking gentle fun at bits of them.

So … I’ve been researching this little town. I’ve driven up there twice. If you look carefully, you can find bits of roads now disused. Off to the side of the state highway is half buried pavement from a road built in the 1920’s. There is a small stretch of narrow-lane concrete road that seems to be from the first federal road in the northwest, but I’m not certain I’ve really got that identified. A series of industrial plants are scattered between small homesteads. An abandoned house stands on a hill. There is a row of nearly dead tress that mark a disused road and the location of a long-gone farm house. And there is this one field. That, dear hearts, is the Field of Blood. Salana died there protecting her family and those she and her mother rescued. Salana … Salana is lost. Her child lived, but Salana did not.

The field is numinous. To the natives who lived there when Lewis and Clark followed the river to the sea, it was a place of deep magic and fear. To them it was the field of blue smokes and a cursed place. But it is holy ground because Salana died there, even if the curse of spilled fairy blood taints it.

Okay, so that’s where I am with this story.

1 comment:

  1. Writing comments is hard sometimes. Particularly commenting on this post. Why? I guess because I have already discussed it with you. We talked about it and I can't think of much more to say.

    I went back and read all the pervious posts about this story and the stories of Jael and Timothy. Do these stories all go together because they involve quests? I remembered a piece of story about the pixie with no wings. Was Timothy the boy in that story? I can't find it.

    Then I found the story of Sha'el and the blacksmith who will make her a sword to kill a fairy with. Is that part of all this too?

    I can see the final version of all this in my mind as all going together. Rachael's story and quest is interwoven with Sha'el's, Jael's and Timothy's stories. Two main story lines, one distant past, one in the here and now.

    The past stories give us the history of the war between the pixies and fairies. The other story is that of a more personal quest that leads to Rachael's final journey to discover her true self.

    I don't feel right suggesting this to you. It may be completely different from your own outline. And I don't feel myself worthy to tell what or how to write. I guess I must do what readers and fans have always done and wait patiently for the presses to roll on the final manuscript.