Gardens and Graveyards

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.