It’s complicated

With just 13 days—yikes!—until NaNoWriMo starts, I should be well on my way to an outline, character list and setting. At a minimum. And that has been my plan since my failed attempt to win Camp NaNoWriMo in July. It’s a sad story, a common refrain (for me). My July project is floundering and I am unprepared for November.

I thought I had it under control. I knew what my plot was going to be. Sort of. (It’s those “sort of’s” that seem to be my downfall.) All I needed was some additional information from my mother and I’d be ready to outline like a madwoman.

Last night I met with her (my mother, not the madwoman) for what I was certain would be the details that would weave the story together. Alas, all she could tell me was all that she’s already told me.

You may wonder why I need information from my mother to write this story. It’s complicated. But when isn’t it? Back to my resource, my mother. Several years ago, she gave me what I assume is a pewter or silver plated wall frieze of the Roman goddess, Diana the Huntress, and the stag.

She’s 88 (my mother, not Diana), from Germany, and lived there during World War II. The wall frieze was given to her by her mother in 1953 when my mother moved to the US with my father, who was in the US Air Force.

My grandmother found the wall frieze in 1952 in a trunk that her son-in-law (not my father) bought at an auction. Assuming it only contained a bunch of old newspapers, he stored it in the basement. But my grandmother thought otherwise and trudged down to the basement to paw through the newspapers. She was rewarded for her effort with Diana and my uncle let her keep it. She passed it on to my mother, who gave it to me.

I believe that the trunk was property confiscated by the Nazis from a Jewish family. The twist is that a few years ago I found out that the mother of my German grandmother was a Jew who married a Christian. That means I am 1/8 Jewish. Ties with the Jewish part of the family were severed, which may have been what saved my immediate German family from the Holocaust. (I can’t allow myself to think about the fate of the Jewish part of my family.)

Sounds like a lot of potential material for an historical novel. Or would it be creative nonfiction? A memoir? I could incorporate my Jewish and my German ancestry and my American upbringing. And I do want to write that book. But 13 days just isn’t enough time to do the necessary research and develop the plot, outline, setting, characters…..

So I’ll stick to the story of Diana. If I can come up with 50,000 words about a trunk, a Roman goddess, a stag, and a wall frieze.

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About Karen Whalen

A contemporary fiction writer with an accumulation of incomplete novels and short stories, I consider NH "home," spending the summer through Christmas there with my husband. My youngest daughter and her family live nearby (as well as my mother and other family members). January finds us venturing to VA to visit our middle daughter and her family before we make our way to sunny AZ to live with our oldest daughter and family. We spend time in VA on our way home. I am fortunate that my daughters live in places I would have retired to all on my own! My 87 year-old mother asks if I will finish my novel (which one, I wonder) before she dies.....Even with that for a goal, I manage to excel at procrastination!

Posted on October 19, 2015, in Karen Whalen, NaNoWriMo, research, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I think the gaps in the source material here leave a lot of room for raw emotional drama — the stuff novels are all about. And the imagery you are amassing is so evocative. I’m eager to see how you string it all together!

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  2. Gosh, Heidi, if I only focused on imperfection I’d be published by now! Oh, first is completion. How could I forget that??

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You’ll do it! Keep saying, over and over, “No editing. The goal is imperfection. No editing. The goal….”

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  4. That does sound complicated, but also very interesting! And yes, would seem to need more than a few weeks to be able to give it the time it deserves to be researched. Good luck with NaNo!

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