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Thursday, May 26, 2005

Edith Brennan

Her mother told her that the Atlantic was her calling; it was not Edith's. At the time, Edith felt she had little choice but to pack her boxes. Mixed tapes, plastic dinosaurs, her movie posters. The room that would have inspired Jackson Pollack himself looked wilted within the week. And in four more weeks she was living out of a U-Haul with her mother for a glorious 6 days, 5 nights.

Within the year, Edith returned home. The apartment's smaller, the bathroom seems bigger and the stove does not work. Her childhood relics reside in the barn of the Noonans' back in Cardigan. Her mother remained at St. Andrew's Cemetery. She returned home, knowing she could be anyone she wanted. The only change she made was to start fresh.

She waited a few months before letting anyone know she was back, but even that was an accident. Avoiding her old stomping grounds, having Small Potatoes deliver, keeping public transit-free, working for a small accounting firm (the kind that exist on second floors between shops), and staying away from main streets proved successful for the first few weeks. Having lived in the region for her entire social life (kindergarten onward), not running into someone was an effort. But there will always be parking lots.

It seemed innocuous to Edith. He was the roommate of a former classmate that she had socialized with on occasion for the year prior to her disappearance to the abysmally small town. He recognized her immediately and had chased her down, leaving his shopping cart full and his trunk wide open.

“You’re back!”
“I am!” She was socially rusted and her desire to be left alone sounded harsher than even she would want. “I’ve been getting set up, again; starting fresh. You’re still around, I see? How is Lee?”
“Moved back after graduation. Was to be expected.”
There hits a point in conversations where it is to early to leave without a believable (true or false) excuse without looking impolite, but Edith wasn’t rehearsed enough for it and he wasn’t going away without an explanation for her quiet return. Grabbing the ends of her coat sleeves, she tried to find the watch she never wore or the comfort that she found in hems. Neither was there.
Just as Edith found the “Exit” sign: “So, when did you get back?”
“March,” She wanted to use her escape hatch, but the conversation was en route again.
“Fantastic! Seen anyone yet?”
“No.” (Except you.)
“A bunch of us are going out tonight, if you’re free.”
“I don’t know… I’m still getting set up.” (Not really. I’m working on a fabulous 2500 piece puzzle of kittens.)
“Still? Do you want me to stop by to give you a hand? Where are you two living now?”
“Where are you going to?” (It’s just me and I don’t think you’d enjoy the kitten puzzle.)
“Not sure. Want me to give you a call when it’s all set up?”
(Think. Should I lie about my phone not being in?) “Should you leave your groceries out like that?”
“Oh, shit. Hold on a sec.” (But I didn’t.)

10 Comments:

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Corinne, at 5/26/2005 12:28:00 AM  

  • Some explanations:

    A lot of blanks are left here, because we're in the job of filling-in-the-blank, not because I was short on ideas.

    Some suggestions of where to take the fatally shy Edith:

    Her mother's death
    Cardigan, PEI
    Anything involving her work
    Age, old enough to graduate pressumably an accounting program, but not necessarily.
    Who was in the parking lot with her

    Admittedly, her social life is a little flatlining, but has room to grow. She had some sort of life before moving to PEI, but not enough to not move away with her mother.


    After seeing Aaron's character Wes, I wanted something a lot more fragile to contrast with. If these two interact, it could go any which way...

    Have fun!

    By Blogger Corinne, at 5/26/2005 12:36:00 AM  

  • Yeah, I had a bit in there about Wes' sister and a weird moment where he had some sort of "awakening" that resulted in some Freudian issues and a penchant for blackberries, but that put me up around 1200 words, so I hacked it all out. He has two sisters, and one was killed, which is why he drinks.

    By Blogger Aaron, at 5/26/2005 01:58:00 AM  

  • Which is why it would be nice to first define the character and then set them up in the neighborhood a bit better. In effect, this would give authors control of the first two posts: one where they define their character in relative isolation, and one where they situate the character in the neighbourhood.

    I found that I had to define his sister a bit and tell her story too. So I cut her out of it and just focused on Wes. Trouble is, his sister's story has to be told to fully tell his, something that was done quite well with Edith Brennan.

    So I would propose to the "neighbourhood" that once every blogger writes their character sketch, we write the actual post that sets them up in the community. That gives them a bit of direction - it 'sets their sails' sort of and hopefully sets them up for an encounter.

    You dig?

    By Blogger Aaron, at 5/26/2005 02:06:00 AM  

  • Excellent work, Corinne! Wow. Love these phrases:

    her rooom was "wilted within the week"

    "socially rusted"

    "the comfort that she found in hems"

    "'I don’t know… I’m still getting set up.' (Not really. I’m working on a fabulous 2500 piece puzzle of kittens.)"

    By Blogger Briana, at 5/26/2005 07:25:00 AM  

  • Aaron: As far as introducing a character via an outline or via a story, I think if I were to pick one or the other, I'd pick the story. I think the structure here is loose enough that either is okay, but the point is to try and have each post be meaningful and interesting on its own, and also to relinquish control of our characters. It's great to have a clear idea of who you think they are, but it's good to have wriggle room.

    I think it's easier to stay true to the spirit of a character without feeling bound in if we do keep some of what Corinne calls "blanks" in.

    In the story I'm working on there's a fatally shy young woman in the apartment. I might make her Edith - the character I was writing and Edith are close enough to be merged I think. Corinne may not like how I portray Edith, but the way I see it, each of us is often confused about our own natures and other people often get us wrong. So if the character I'm writing sees Edith differently than she sees herself that's okay. Each character will be revealed over several stories by several people. If we do this right, some traits and fates will come as a surprise to the original writers of each character.

    What you should do about Wes is write a story now that introduces the elements you left out of your description of him that you feel are most crucial to his character. In my opinion ;-)

    By Blogger Briana, at 5/26/2005 07:33:00 AM  

  • Oh, and I also like using the comments as a place to put author footnotes.

    By Blogger Briana, at 5/26/2005 07:35:00 AM  

  • I don't mind letting go of Edith at all. One of the reasons I left so many blanks was to let myself get to know her through other's writings of her.

    I honestly don't know how her mother died or where her father is. It'd be great to find out. :D

    By Blogger Corinne, at 5/26/2005 11:03:00 AM  

  • Bri: Thanks. It's been a while since I've written a character sketch and I just stuck with the basics. Stay tuned.

    By Blogger Aaron, at 5/26/2005 07:16:00 PM  

  • I think it's good that not every post is the same. It's neat that there's variety in tone, style, voice and structure. I'm really interested to see how this will develop.

    By Blogger Briana, at 5/26/2005 09:13:00 PM  

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