Wednesday, January 6, 2010

D for Done

The WIP is no longer IP. No longer W, either. A year ago I was about 5 chapters into a nice romp through the first draft. So that's not so bad. I think its going to be called The Poison Hill. Some details:
Setting: St. Paul, MN. Summer 1924
Protagonist: Gertrude Leskow, 18
The Nutshell: Gertrude falls in love with another girl, breaks her engagement and begins to take charge of her life.
Actually, a large part of the book fell into place when I encountered Andrew Lang's Pink Fairy Book (and all the other subsequent Fairy Books) in my library. I kept reading the same story over and over -- variously called "East of the Sun and West of the Moon," "The Hoodie Crow," "The Brown Bear of Norway," and so on. It's the story of a girl who marries an animal and discovers he is a man under a spell; she betrays his secret and he leaves her but she wins him back, often by traveling long distances and undergoing trials. Several things about this appealed to me, but I really felt that I could use both the theme and structure in a novel. I'll never write fantasy -- I just don't have that kind of mind -- but I liked the idea of incorporating mythology this way. And when I found, in the course of my research, a quote from G.K. Chesterton, to the effect that all fairy tales are spiritual exercises, I felt I was on a good track. As I've tried to express it in Chapter 1:

All her life she had believed in fairy tales – in books. Sometimes in real life certain events – a shabby man speaking to her on the streetcar – seemed almost to imitate the beginning of such stories, but if it never went any further she did not mourn, for the books were enough.
Even so, she should have learned something. Not just that magic might be hidden in a walnut; that one must be kind to dwarves; that the cat you freed from a trap on page 2 would do you a good turn on page 4. No, the lessons were meant to be much deeper than that. Heroines must be passionate about the truth, for instance. They must grab it with both hands and hold on in spite of torments and temptations; they must seek it far away, even go into exile. And if they must humble themselves in the service of this truth, and perform some terrible, impossible task to free someone, humble themselves they would, and then, with horseshoes on their hands and feet, climb the hill of poison, utterly alone.
But though she knew all this, she did not believe in it beyond the page itself, and so everything she would need to know lay unheeded on her bookshelves.


Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Yum, that's fascinating. I'm quite intrigued by this book.

Laura Canon said...

Thanks. I'm just happy to be done!

Elle Strauss said...

Congrats on completing your wip!