Artist’s License to Kill; Farewell, Lydia

Interesting contradictions arise in creating a fictional world. Since I’m not making up science fiction or fantasy, and because I’m the kind of reader and movie watcher who struggles with “suspending reality,” I don’t take lightly putting together things that contradict common sense.  There once was a novel I could not read because the author told of an ordinary woman carrying two twenty-five gallon buckets of water.  I’ve hauled plenty of water; it weighs about eight pounds per gallon. I knew this before Google.

My number one problem lately comes right from the bounty of Google-found facts.  Blessed by Silliness takes place in the spring of 2004, and features both full moon scenes and the Spring Equinox. Yet, research reveals that the vernal equinox and the new moon both fell on March 20 that year, and for that matter, not on the day of the week that fits my story.  I can handle this. ZAP!, with my author wand, I am turning the moon and sun into my tools, reflecting a magic light that never existed on silly people who likewise never lived, who never thought things like “First the sun, then the moon.  Day, or night, is coming soon.” And yet, they do.

Feeling proud of myself now, claiming that I’ve paid my artistic dues and earned the famed artistic license, I go on, creating this moonshine world. No one will know or care in the long run if the story is good enough.  Yet, still another piece of the creative process is giving me grief.

I’ve had to kill Lydia.  I’m also not writing the murder mystery, except that to the next readers of this novel in its (hopefully)final form, “Who the heck is Lydia?” would be a mystery. Ardent readers of the early versions might remember Lydia, the old woman with the motorhome and the dogs. She was a cranky trickster, a clownish cartoon type of character who cursed out passing vehicles, based on quirky personal whims, and laughed with an odd sound, spelled “huk, huk.” She was stereotypically ugly-old, and sadly vain. I loved her.  It’s been hard for me, saying farewell to my dear old funny Lydia.

Into her place has come the funny Sylvia. Taller, more stately, and a bit of a gypsy by temperament. More perceptive, less devious, and still vain. Sylvia doesn’t hold back. She’s becoming real to me, based on a composite slew of fantastic elder women I didn’t even know at the time I wrote the first drafts of this novel.  She still has the RV and the dogs and much of Lydia’s life story, with dignified twists of her own.  No cursing or ugly aging for Sylvia.  Her wrinkles are beautiful, the kind that bless women with complex lives.  For some people, elder beauty is less believable than twenty-five gallon buckets of water, but making that real is our job, Sylvia’s and mine. In memoriam, I’m giving her Lydia’s quirky laugh.  Ah, ha, and aha! Huk, huk.


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