I was reading catalog copy yesterday and came across that phrase in the middle of a sentence, “gardens and graveyards.” Whoa, I was like “I should totally name the Sue Allen piece that” but I’m a good eleven and a half thousand words into my first draft and there’s not a single mention of a garden nor a graveyard. I briefly flirted with changing the name of this blog to “Gardens and Graveyards” since that would be a pretty accurate description of things, in some ways. But I decided against it.
So, I’m just throwing it out there. “Gardens and Graveyards.”
The Sue Allen thing is going strange. In my mind, I’m not even scheduled to start working on it until November. I want to get the Monsters in America book read and I’d intended to spend some time trying to track down more facts. But here we are, with November a week away, and there’s eleven and a half thousand words written. They’re not all good words, mind you. And I had to go in and rewrite a scene last night because I realized that Sue would not go to a black woman’s house. It just wouldn’t occur to her. She would summon the black woman to her. And yet, I feel like Sue is realizing a little bit that the world isn’t how she thought it was, so I did have the woman come to her front door and be greeted by Sue.
It’s funny. This first draft really does feel almost like an outline that has expanded. But, if there’s one thing I learned from Flock, it’s the importance of an outline. A short story, I can kind of keep a whole picture in my head or let myself be pleasantly surprised by where it goes. But with a novel, I feel like just getting through the first draft requires knowing what you’re aiming for, while also being willing to revise what you’re aiming for.
There’s a pretty crucial scene in the outline where the guys finally discover the cave, which they believe to be a spirit portal, a door to the Other World, so to speak. And they figure out how to activate it and they send a dog through and the dog comes back dead. Thus they think they all decide that whatever that cave is, they should not use it. Of course, the bad guy isn’t thwarted or we don’t have a story.
But I also realized that Sue needs to go. For a lot of reasons. But I was thinking of how the two parties would go. The men would be, you know, a party of adult and teenage men. Ben would be there, with his cousins, probably the youngest of the group. He’d be twelve. But if Sue and her sister Sarah were going to go, it’s probable (and for the sake of the story, true) that they’d have to haul their four year old half sister, their six year old half brother, their eight year old half sister, their eleven year old half brother, and possibly a four year old niece. I was laughing to myself that this is why women didn’t have adventures–if you had the free time for adventures, you had the free time to entertain the children and get them out of the adults’ hair for a while.
Anyway, it’s a good thing it is a fantasy, because I’m having these gals do all kinds of things that would have been unlikely–in the draft, Sue’s about to take a trip down to Maury County because the guy she’s writing to down there won’t write her back.
I’m also, today, going to the Ghost Story Festival at the State Museum because, damn it, I want to see John Murrell’s thumb. I hope it’s not strange that I don’t have children. But are they really going to show a thumb to children?
God, I love this state.
Ugh, fine. I will. TNGOP, come closer. Not that close. No, I’m not trying to have an affair with you. Put that beer back in the fridge! You have to drive home. Is someone pushing me? TNGOP, go stand over there! With your hands where I can see them.
Now listen up. Here’s how to play the whole voter ID thing. The only way. Whenever you are asked about it, whenever someone brings up problems with it:
“We are just trying to ensure that the person voting is who he or she says he or she is. The system for getting people IDs has not been as smooth as we had hoped, but we are working with local authorities to make sure that wait times aren’t ridiculous and that the paperwork requirements are clear to everyone before they come in, so that no one has to make multiple trips. That’s my comment. Thank you.”
Then you turn and walk away. Or hide in the bathroom, I don’t care.
What you’re doing–accusing a black woman who had to live through the onerous bullshit of the Jim Crow South in order to vote in her youth, who watched people die so that she could do basic citizen things like vote and go out in public and eat wherever the hell she wanted, of being exploited? It is so dumb that it hurts my heart. It’s literally causing me to advise you to stop doing things this stupid and I want you to lose. I’ve had to set aside my own best interest in order to try to convince you to stop being such dumbasses.
You know what old people don’t love? Having it insinuated that they’re too stupid to know their own minds. That they don’t come to the voting booth or to your bullshit rinky-dink efforts to make it difficult for them to vote without decades of experience in exactly your type of patronizing bullshit.
It’s deeply condescending to say that Dorothy Cooper is being exploited. She’s just old. She’s not an idiot.
So, shape the fuck up, assholes.