Thursday, February 7, 2013

What is a Dossie?

“Girl, come on and give me a help with this game,” he called. “Your old man has brought you a doeskin gown.”  His words made a thrilling surge in her. She could not contain her excitement. Dossie smiled. Dossie came off the porch to help him untie his deer. Oh, her face is such a delicate, smooth oval! Oval eyes in an oval face that is a color he can not give a name to. He paused to take in the complete beauty of it all: the running girl, the doe, his chestnut mare. “Quiet, old man,” he said to himself. Dossie’s skin is dark, but not dull and quiet as loam. Rather it is like a spoon of sorghum held up to the sun. Ah, she is a lovely dollop of sweet! “Quiet, old man,” he said. He decided to rein himself so she would not see his naked need.

 I miss them. I miss all of my characters. I've finished a revision of my most recent manuscript -- the novel I've been working on for the last long while. I've told friends and family small bits in conversation when they ask what it is about. I had a deadline for the revision of the ms. and I met it. I've accomplished a contract for it. So, it's got wings and legs and traction. I can stop worrying if it is wanted. I didn't actually slough off my personal life and take on the fictional one. I don't do that. But the final weeks before the deadline were intensive. I lived my own life though I put off tasks and decisions. I tried to keep my mind narrowly focused on the characters, the place and the time even when I wasn't writing, editing or reading the novel.

 I've put it aside now for several weeks. I've put them aside and, at times, I do miss them. It's hard not to think about them. I feel silly if I imagine more scenes for them. I feel disloyal if I don't think about them at all. And frankly, I miss having a place to drift off to mentally when the mudane or the troublesome real world is swamping me.

It's not as if I don't have other fiction to go to. I've got a whole drawer in my mind filled with novel ideas. I've got notebooks with ideas for stories, plays and essays. Yet to leave the deep everyday existence with a novel you've worked on for several years is wrenching.

Why couldn't I ease away from them. I  knew the day was coming. I wanted the day to come.  I want the manuscript to become a book -- a novel. I can't tell you how much I want it to stand on its own and become part of other peoples' experience.  I don't want to keep it hidden -- to keep them in a drawer.

Except that I do.

I'm an empathetic writer. It's difficult for me to simply put aside thoughts of my characters. I've spent at least two full years cultivating furrows and roots of them in my brain. I love my characters. I imagine that some of them love me. I have been conversing with them and consulting them for a considerable time. I've learned how to associate personal feelings with their needs. I have compartments in my brain -- like baskets and file cabinets - with places for each of them. I listen to music, I smell a smell, I peruse a photograph and I can engage them.  In a sense I am the goddess of them. I get to love them all and love all parts of them. This is a universal love  - a love of the act of creation -- of having made them -- of being the instrument of their fates. Yikes it sounds meglomaniac. Yes, it is. It is the part of novel construction that I like most -- making all of the decisions. I am motivated by an urge to give these people -- these very specific people - a full, knowable life.