Over the last couple of years I have been working hard on two novels. One of them is with an agent now–who may or may not take it. I’ve been down that road before. Entitled, She Who Sees Beyond, the book is about a seer who tries to avoid her gift. For the most part I’m happy with it, although any re-read produces the reaction, “I could have written that better.”
The second novel, Something in the Water, is plaguing me with questions. It’s written in third person omniscient (subjective) and told from multiple points of view. Because of that I’m worrying over what to put where in the timeline so as not to reveal key elements too quickly, or too slowly. Still, the novel is probably my favorite among those I’ve written, so far. It concerns the good, and not so good legacies, of a father and son–both Alabama farmers–after each comes face to face with destruction.
Why write a book about Alabama farmers? Well, name another human group more instrumental in the miracle of growth that keeps humanity alive?
The underpinnings of Something in the Water are these:
That no one can control Mother Nature, but everyone can control his own nature.
That a weak man who continues to struggle can become strong.
That a strong woman can lift, and love, a weakened man.
That the innocence of children holds absolute Truths.
That there is hidden grace in every adversity.
And that there is surely such a thing as lifelong love.
In the POV of the grandson, here are father and son in a head to head confrontation:
Grandpa James turns, his expression hardened. He points at Papa again. “No, you wait! We both know Nature’s unfaithful, and we won’t always have just the right amount of water when we need it. Nature betrays us, turns on us, and sometimes it takes what we love. But I won’t sit down for that. I’ll fight against it every time. I won’t let it destroy us, no matter what I have to do!”
“What can you do? You’re a man—one man. You can’t tame a river, and you can’t stop a storm.”
“Don’t tell me what I can’t do, boy. I can do it because I’m part of it. I have a nature, too. The nature of a man. And it’s made me mean and strong, just as mean and strong as those floods and droughts. I ain’t no a whiner. I ain’t showing no weakness. Show weakness to your enemy, he’ll put a knife in your side, slice you up and down, and leave you for dead.”
“An enemy? You’re talking like Nature’s a person.”
“Oh, it ain’t a person. No, not a person! Nature’s bigger than that. It’s the biggest of big things. It’s the Daddy of all we got, but if it tries to steal something from us, we got to be nasty enough to fight against it. If we’re men, that’s what we got to do.”
Alabama is home to over 43,000 farmers, whose land covers 8.9 million acres. Their economic impact is tremendous, creating over 500,000 jobs and generating an impact of over $70.4 billion.–The Montgomery Advertiser, 2014.
Below is a commercial from Land O’Lakes,(I love their butter!) It’s a tribute to farmers, and it is stirring. The poem behind it was written by Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr (1831-1919) a British novelist who migrated to America in 1850. A while back, but then, some things never change.