(photo credit: I’m sure one of my children is going to give me a hard time for posting this picture of them, but it is the best representation I could find to describe what I’m talking about in this blog post. And, in my opinion, it is pretty friggin’ adorable.)
Read-through is complete. Ready to begin rewrites. Well, ready to begin big picture thinking about rewrites. I don’t know if you’re interested, but my plan is to write a couple thousand word summary of the story tomorrow. This will probably lead to a couple more summaries the next few days, until I come up with something that feels organic and organized. Then on to the next steps.
Meanwhile, the manuscript buzzes around in my head. There are several characters I’d completely forgotten about from the last time I looked at the novel. How is that even possible? You create something and then you have no memory of having created that thing? Odd.
There IS one minor character, whom I’d forgotten about but once I read her part, I remember having written her. She is a woman with Down’s Syndrome, who walks her dog around the main character’s neighborhood and sings loudly as she swings a drumstick in her non-leash hand. She is only in the story in a few places and doesn’t have any dialogue, but I realized as I read through the story that she plays a significant role in the main character’s life. I can’t imagine telling the story of my main character without the presence of this singing, dog-walking, drumstick figure-eighting woman.
Anybody who lives near me will know immediately where the idea of this character originated. There is a middle-aged man with Down’s Syndrome who regularly walks his golden retriever around my neighborhood. He wears headphones and sings (loudly and off-tune) to the music as he walks. Also, he holds a drumstick and moves it to the beat of his song, like a conductor.
It’s hard to explain what this man means to me since I don’t know him beyond saying hello or waving when he passes by, but there is something about his presence, which fills me up with a peaceful feeling. I’ve never thought about it until now, but it makes me sad when I don’t see him for awhile. Lately, either we are on a different schedule or he’s moved or for some unknown reason, he’s cut back or stopped walking his dog near my house, and that gives me an uneasy feeling. The way he sings and conducts without caring about the judgment of others is such a pleasant shift from all of the posing and posturing most of us, often unwittingly, do in our daily lives.
Even though my main character is quite different from me, she also feels the positive force of a person who moves through the world in their own skin, never attempting to be something he or she is not. It is something we all do when we are young children but lose bit by bit as we grow more aware of what we believe is expected of us as members of society.
I think that sense of comfort with who we are is also something that we spend much of our adult life trying to recapture.
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