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Ok. Here's a scene from an early draft---dated 2005---of Three Rivers Rising which comes out tomorrow, April 13. Long long ago, I thought gossipy busybody Mrs. Godwin would be a speaking character, meaning she would have her own poems or monologues, however you like to think of it. She serves what I like to call the Greek Chorus function, or the Gladys Kravitz function: how do you show what your characters are rebelling against? You have to show somebody who lives and breathes the status quo, someone's whose judgement is to
some of us remember
a time back before the railroads
when the entire state of Pennsylvania
was buzzing about canals.
a body of water was planned
to keep the canals full
in case summer ran dry.
the canals went out
as the railroad came in
and the little lake
that’s how it was explained to me
when we bought shares in the reservoir,
by then it was one of the largest man-made lakes
anyone could name
well everyone in Town knew of Mr. Carnegie’s refuge
up here in the Alleghenies
and clear water
after the smells and crowds and filth of town---
even me with my many society engagements
and social obligations among the right kind of families
my ladies’ clubs
and volunteer organizations---
even I was tempted away
at the lakeside resort
formally known as the South Fork Hunting and Fishing Club
though very privately
we call it simply Lake Conemaugh---
“we” being the most important families,
dozens in the high season
men of influence
and their well-bred children
I wouldn’t embarrass myself by dropping names
suffice to say all the biggest tycoons in steel and coke
are members: Carnegie, Frick and Mellon
though they must be too busy tending their fortunes
to join us on the porch of the clubhouse
possessing gingerbread cottages lakeside.
Mr. Godwin is quite the opposite
he is absorbed by his new passion:
from the moment our train car arrives at the South Fork station,
he is lost to me
doesn’t seem to hear me.
at the end of the season
it is nearly impossible to persuade him to leave.
he doesn’t seem to mind roughing it
though it wears on my nerves after a few days---
I can bring only my maid and one other girl!
I live like a pauper
in the name of fresh air and sunshine
while my house in town waits
furnishings covered in starched white drop cloths
for the summer.
never let it be said Louise Godwin is a poor sport.
here I am to make the best of it.
at least I have the dogs with me
especially my precious little Ditsy
who never leaves my side.
her hair is tied up with a bit of the ribbon
what a picture we shall be
under the awning.
“Let’s go see
who has a spot of tea
and some gossip for us, Ditsy...
who will pass the time.”
Well, well...I can see how my writing has changed since 2005, hopefully for the better. I think Mrs. Godwin would be a fun character voice to write in, but it was better for this particular story to cut her. She's still a character in there, speaking her mind and making everyone miserable, peeking through the curtains like Gladys Kravitz.