Friday, February 26, 2010

The Voice

I should be working on the novel, the one I'm excited about, that has accumulated chapters and files of research and a story line and characters like Jesus-Mary-and-Joseph who sometimes peer out at me from crowds, demanding that I return. My narrator, Maggie, has a strong voice.
But this other voice has been demanding its say.
The Leopard Lady began talking in a patois of Appalachian, Shakespearean, African-American, King James Bible, and carny lingo. She had a story to tell, and the initial burst of her appearance included the seeds of 8-10 poems. Others come along as the moment strikes, such as the morning I was watching a couple of young cowbirds in the azaleas by the front porch.
I do love her, though I am puzzled by her arrival. She is as mysterious to me as she is to the people in her story.
I read once that Toni Morrison saw characters, saw people in a moment and then had to return to tell their stories. As visual as I tend to be, lately it seems that it is the voices that lead me into writing.

1 comment:

sherylmonks said...

What a fascinating character, Val. This is the sort of thing that thrills and terrifies me about writing a novel. There's nothing I like more than conjuring up someone I want to spend time with, but the distraction is so dangerous for me. I like the way you're giving your character poems, smaller pieces of your time. Is that a strategic manuever that helps you deal with her quickly and then refocus your attention to the novel? Or do you just feel an irresistable tug that you're compelled to follow? Love to hear more about your process on matters like this. I get overwhelmed so easily in this long form. Great post. Thanks for sharing.