Daunting. Impossible. A great challenge that inspires a chesire cat grin. November is fast approaching, and there is more than just an election to be engrossed with. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) will begin on the 1st, but I have yet to decide if I will participate this year or not.
Last year, almost a week into November, my friend Mike and I were sitting at Andolinis (downtown location of course, it’s the best). I’m telling him about NaNoWriMo, we’re saying how it seems impossible, to write a novel in a month! Can’t be done, or it’d be a botched job at best, so many days already passed, a plethora of words behind. But before we finished our delicious pizza, no doubt we caught each other’s small smirk. We were in.
Those three and half weeks were grueling, late nights, fighting the urge to rewrite pages, spending weekends in bed with my laptop typing away. Had it not been for Thanksgiving weekend, I may not have finished. My idea was something that had been gradually unfolding within my mind for months. Pieces being pulled together from various sources, and how in my imagination these parts would come to mold my novella…Eden Prairie.
The title is also the setting. Eden Prairie, a small Appalachia town, whose citizens know poverty, mountain mining, and religion all too well. But these are what simultaneously unite and divide the people of Eden Prairie. Jessie, a sixteen year old girl, has witnessed a great family schism between her mother and older sister for reasons later revealed. Jessie’s mother, a devout evangelical Christian, is a member of a small, struggling church, Adonai, which believes in the power of the Holy Spirit and practices snake handling. But when her mother is bitten by a poisonous snake, her unforeseen death sends Jessie down a path of spiritual and religious questioning and struggle. With only her sister left, Jessie seeks her estranged sibling out in the one place all town outcasts can be found, the Forgotten Eden. Known to her as a hedonistic bar, Jessie soon discovers there is more to it than brew and sin. There is music, and the songs, the blues of the people of Eden Prairie resonate within her.
But while in her state of liminal, the leader of Adonai is struggling to save a dying tradition. Eli’s youthful ambitions to establish a prosperous Christian church have failed to come to fruition by his middle age, and with members falling ill, dying, from snake bites, the validity of his church, of God’s presence within him and Adonai, is being questioned.
As Eden Prairie begins to divide, the events of a mining accident and a charismatic preacher man from the north only bring more tragedy and struggle to this small town. Along with her sister, Jessie’s lifelong friend, Rabbit, is rarely not at her side. His name comes from his funny made lip, a cleft palate that the townspeople believe came from his mother eating too much rabbit while with child. Unable to speak, Rabbit scribbles his thoughts into a notebook rarely seen even by Jessie. As the months pass, the people of Eden Prairie will forever be changed by the interactions of Eli, Jessie, and Rabbit, whose journeys lead to drastic ends.
So, that is Eden Prairie, a novella that I have never read since writing its last word. A year has passed without reviewing and editing its pages. And I think how careless of me. How I have neglected a work I care for so much, but have always loathed the editing process. I am unsure of who I would trust to read and critique it. But find myself wanting to return to it, as if I’m losing time.
A new thought has crossed my mind…perhaps I should use the month of NaNoWriMo not to write another tale, but to return to the pages it helped pushed me to write. But even then, I do not trust my critique and thoughts alone. I greatly desire another mind to help challenge me, to assist in crafting this piece I believe could be quite poignant and beautiful.
Who will help me? Will you?