The last few days have been difficult writing days. I’m still trying to anchor the details of a character, getting his back story put together so that it all makes sense as I write. This process tends to occupy a lot of my time and my mind has difficulty thinking creatively about anything else. Fortunately, most of my life is pretty simple and I am not required to do much other than think and process. I find myself watching inane television shows to relax the neurons and then I’m disgusted because I feel like I’ve wasted precious time. I don’t give myself much of a break and you can certainly blame my father for that, if you’d like. I am. And he doesn’t much care.
For the most part, my standard characters write themselves. They tell me over and over again what makes them happy and what makes them grumpy. Beryl is sassy and mouthy and generally has no filter. Andy is stable and solid, but has a desire to be more than that, so she’s willing to go and do. Lydia is the mother of the group, anchoring it with love that just can’t help itself. She has to share it. Sylvie is finding herself amid the craziness of her life. For so many years, she defined herself as a mother, but she figured out that her boys need to see she is a person. And it’s safe for her to release them a little since she has found such a great friend in Polly.
Eliseo Aquila has dealt with terrible pain and disfigurement, but rather than allow it to turn him in on himself and make him bitter, he chose to step beyond that. I believe this is something we pay little attention to in those who have overcome great trouble. We accept it, but don’t recognize the strength it took for them to get to this point. We pay a lot of attention to those whose needs continue to be big and forget those who have accomplished a lot with very little because they step back away from the limelight in order to allow others to have the help they need.
Aaron Merritt, Lydia’s husband and the local Sheriff, hasn’t yet told his story. He is a fair man, whose primary focus is to keep the people in his care – safe. He has a strong sense of honor and the best part of him is found in his relationship with Lydia. They give each other strength, never using up the other. Somehow they have figured out how to make their strength grow exponentially because of the way they rely on each other.
Henry Sturtz is an amalgam of men I’ve known. They can do nearly anything and create beauty from nothing with their hands. He is an artist, but he’d never call himself that because he is a craftsman. He isn’t afraid of work, it is what has defined his family for a lifetime. He loves easily, but until he met Polly Giller, was unwilling to express it. He doesn’t mind that they do things differently than the world’s definition of a relationship.
Jeff Lyndsay is another man whose story has yet to be told. He loves life. He gave up a chance at operating a large hotel in an immense market to come work for Polly because he saw great potential in what she was doing at Sycamore House. He and Polly have managed to find out that they trust each other implicitly, even when they approach things differently.
Jason and Andrew Donovan’s stories really are just beginning. One day we’ll come to understand more of why Jason feels the need to protect his little brother and his mother. It’s always interesting to see how the things that happen to us as children impact our behavior as we grow up. Andrew can explore the world as much as he likes because he has been given a safe home and encouragement from both his mother and his older brother.
Polly Giller? She’s just like all of us. There are so many sides to her that I lose count. She loves, she gets angry, she cries, she flies off the handle, she is passionate. Polly can be petty and snide, she can cut someone down with a few words and she can build others up when they need to be supported. She is still young enough that she is finding her way through life. Just about the time she declares something to be real, she discovers that she has to change her mind.
She loved her father with everything she had and when he let her freedom be as important to him as it was to her, she didn’t realize what a gift he’d given her. She’s always been comfortable making girlfriends, but has never trusted a man to be in her life for very long … until she met Henry, who is much like her father, though she hasn’t admitted that to herself yet.
These characters take shape every day in the connection between my fingers and the keyboard and I love them. I get angry when people mess with them and I find great joy in relating their ups and downs as I write things out.
I am still learning things about each of the characters, but after a year, I’m finally getting to know them pretty well. I once told Mom that it took me a little over a year to really get to know a new community and move past the initial give and take of relationships. I’ve given Bellingwood a year to anchor itself in my psyche and I can hardly wait to see what happens from this point forward.