November 10, 2010

My NaNoWriMo Novel Is Coming Together!

Dear Writing Friends and Readers,

I'm experiencing something I'm sure you can relate to. I've been "butt in the chair" each morning, words pouring out of my fingertips as I engage in National Novel Writing Month's 30-day challenge. When I was asked to name a title, I wrote "The Memory Tree" even though I had no idea what that was or how it would fit into my story. I just liked it and went with it.

Then, lots of writing, up to 16,000 + words yesterday. Yesterday morning, I finalize realized (okay, "they" told me) how the various characters would connect with each other and what the Memory Tree was. It sits on The Ridges, a hill which is the main narrator of the book.

Here's a description of what the Memory Tree is (not the novel, but the tree)...

In the woods here on my ridge there is always one tree older than any other; once a sapling, then a young tree that bends in the tornadoes that whip across Ohio; never breaking, never uprooting, growing wider and taller with each passing year, home to all sorts of wildlife, feathered and four-footed. Then, as its branches thicken and its trunk widens and the roots of its being push deeper, past the soil and wrapping around the rocks that make up this ridge, the tree begins to store memories.

Like a human being retains memories for only a season, trees hold the warm-weather memories in their leaves, to float to the ground in the autumn, wiping the surface of near-time clean. But some leaves are so infused with memories that something -- sound or sight or spirit -- seeps into the branches, the small ones first then into the large ones. When the leaves fall to the ground the spirit of these memories infuses the soil and seeps to the roots. Up from the ground and down from the sky, these memories journey, meeting in the trunk, the center of a tree's wisdom, where rings measure not only years but seasons of memory.

If man could devise a machine to measure a tree's memory, he would learn a history unlike that told in any printed book. The tale of everything wild and natural, mentioning man from the unbiased view of observer. A history such as I can share with you, as all these trees on my shoulders have whispered to me their memories with each gust of wind blowing through their branches.

In the winter, dark lines against the gray sky form a calligraphy of testimony, as the trees themselves reveal the shorthand of their time on earth. Time that spans the generations of men, of government, of weather. Some of the trees on my ridge are two hundred, three hundred, years old. If you sit under these trees long enough, you might sense their memories too. I wonder sometimes if Bugaboo did. Perhaps that's why he felt little guilt about what he did to Lester Dixtin. No guilt whatsoever, not even for a minute. He replaced any thought of the man he'd killed with a focus on the nurse who was like a mother to him, his brother and best friend, and the plants that were his children.

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