Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sketching "The Gift" - Part Four.

As I approach completion on the draft of my new novel "Gifts Of The Peramangk", I'm finding myself wielding my camera a lot more in an image gathering mission of sorts. It's designed to help me visualize certain scenes and settings in the novel and it brings me closer to the words I am penning on the page. Imagery forms a large conceptual part of the new novel - how imagery can fire the imagination to deliver a musical performance. 

Imagery is no less important in the performance of writing. 

The Orphanage, is where the final scenes of the young Virginia's journey plays out and it is a scene that hints at years of heartache after she is rejected from the Penschey farm. As it stands now, the scene is a small one but it carries a lot of weight in terms of the transitioning of the young Virginia and the old Virginia we follow as a grand mother to Ruby. Virginia is to spend 5 years in The Orphanage, after which she is released as a 21 year old to make her own way in life. As a young Aboriginal woman in 1964 Australia, the prospects for Virginia in a country that doesn't even recognize her as a human being, seem bleak. Added to this is the fact that she has been rendered crippled, which will only add to the difficulty of finding her way. Standing on the steps of the Orphanage, a single suitcase in her hand, Virginia fears for her future by confiding in a young nun who has returned to Virginia, the single most important possession she owns that was taken from her once she entered the Orphanage - her violin.

The actual Orphanage, here in Adelaide, no longer serves in the role that it was originally built for, but it stands as a monument to the many lives that passed through it's doors over a century. Built in the 1890's, the Orphanage was run by a Catholic Order of Nuns known as The Sisters Of Mercy, receiving countless children into their care from many varied backgrounds up until 1975.

Walking around the building as I did a couple of weeks ago, I reflected on the experiences of those children and, knowing some of what they experienced through my research, I found myself both moved and ashamed.

The buildings of The Orphanage definitely carry an aura about them. They are very tall, dark and carry with them a sense of foreboding, which is what I sought to translate into the novel. Standing before them, one feels very small. For a young child of 15 or 16, the effect of these buildings  would surely be frightening in the immediate term and depressing damaging in the longer term.

I updated elsewhere this past weekend that I have about four chapters left to write and I will have a completed draft manuscript. Once I have it bedded down, the editing process will begin. I've actually started the process already and have had some wonderful help from a couple of people whose advice has been exquisite.

In the meantime, I apologize in advance if posts become a little sporadic around here. My focus needs to be on the manuscript and getting the novel ready for release. But feel free to poke me if you need a little more DFA conversation.


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