Monday, November 05, 2007

I see dead people

I've been living with the dead these past few days.  It's not nearly as morbid as one might think.  A lot of my NaNo story has to do with people back in the 1910's, 1930's, and some even before 1900.  And many of them are based on my extended family members.  For me, this is partially a way of putting their stories on paper (or in a computer anyway) before they completely fade from memory.  So I am thinking a lot about people I never knew and/or people who were grown and old when I was a child.

To that end, I've been digging around on, trying to find out stuff about the family.  I told Sarah that it's like Alice down the rabbit hole, one thing leads to another and another and pretty soon you've wiled away the afternoon trying to find facts about people you never knew.  A couple of cool things I've found:  Doug's grandfather's registration card for the draft in WWI.  He went in at the very end.  I think by the time his training was through, the war was over.  But the cool thing about it is that it is in his own handwriting, which I sort of recognize from when he was alive.  Another cool thing that I found was my own grandfather's registration card from WWII.  It isn't handwritten but it has a few interesting details on it that I didn't know.  I can see how people can spend hours and days and years doing this.  I wish I had the time.

So for the past couple of weeks I've been thinking about dead people, planning stories around dead people, thinking about the real stories of dead people, and trying to write.  About dead people.  Sometimes I wonder what the dead are up to.  One of the men in my story doesn't want to die.  In real life, he did die, and rather suddenly at that.  So suddenly that he was dead and carted away for burial before his brother (my great-grandfather) could come back to the hospital and check on him.  (Times being what they were and the guys being what and who they were, Papa Carlson dropped Augustus off at a hospital, then went to work.  When he came back, they told him that Augustus had died and that they were burying him but they didn't know where at the time.  He never did find his brother's burial place...but one of my mother's cousins has.)

So anyway, Augustus is in my story (one of the few characters who retains his very own name, which I'm wondering if that is the reason why he just won't die) and he's at the hospital.  Now, I know and we all know that the man died in the hospital very suddenly (I'm thinking something like cholera or a burst appendix or something) but Augustus on my computer is fighting it with all of his might.  I mentioned it to Sarah when she asked me how my story was going and she, who is always loathe to kill any characters off unless they are villains, suggested that, just because he died in real life, didn't mean he needed to die in my story.  I thought that over and then replied, "Yeah, but there's nothing for him to do in the story after he dies!"  I'm still debating on it.  I've honestly not ever had a character in one of my stories be so stubborn and strong-willed about the story line.  It's surprised and amused me greatly.

Back to the land of those who once walked the earth and while there, begat people who begat people who begat me.  I like it here.  They know me and love me.  Except for Augustus, who is undecided.

P.S.  I did have a novel excerpt up at my NaNo site but, after reading the delicious piece of dialogue that Terri put up on her blog over the weekend, I took it down in disgust.  I'm finding out that I'm not very much of a writer, but I am enjoying the process.

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