Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Rewriting in real time

 Bankhead 2002, Watercolour and crayon, ©2020 Charlene Brown

I have rewritten the collection of short stories, The Starting Out Years, about six generations of girls in my family, many times since COVID-19 hit.

The main character in the fifth story is my (partly fictional) granddaughter, Fiona, born in 2002 and introduced in a blog post on July 2   She finishes high school and goes on to McGill University in 2020 a fairly smooth transition when I completed the first draft last year.  Because of the pandemic school shutdowns, I’ve been re-writing this story in real time throughout the spring and summer.

The fact is that none of my grandchildren was born in 2002.  This storyline complication was entirely self-inflicted by my whimsical idea to work the Chinese zodiac into a subplot running through the short stories.   I was born in 1942, the year my grandmother turned 60, and I had read somewhere that horoscopes based on the Chinese Zodiac attach great significance to connections between a grandparent and a child born in the year that grandparent turns sixty. The two are said to have similar character traits, capabilities and life fortunes.

The above painting shows one of the things that actually happened in 2002.  It is based on a picture taken during a weekend in and around Banff when my daughters and I celebrated my 60th birthday that year.

I’ve rewritten the sixth story almost as often.  It is set in 2042 when my (really fictional) great-granddaughter and her friends are in their starting out years, reflecting on the weird situation their parents found themselves in, back in 2020.