We Don’t Own a Boat


Two of the happiest days in one’s life are the day one gets a boat…

Mary had a sailboat. The storms during the winter had reduced the number of functional cleats to one. During Mary’s ownership, it sank twice (Note the black tube on the starboard side–this is connected to a bilge pump). If it got loose from its mooring, a possibility during fierce winter storms, we were liable to damage done to other docks and boats.

…and the other is the joyous day one gets rid of said boat.
We gave it away.

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There’s something you don’t see everyday, Edgar

For reasons known only to sociologists and writers (fiction writers are free to make stuff up as long as it sounds plausible), Memorial and Labor Day Weekends provide the bookends to summer for Americans. In that time that we Americans define as summer, Clear Lake squeals (see my previous discussion in Anthropology 101), throbs with jet skis (euphemistically called ‘personal water craft’ as in ‘one more grating machine that you may use to annoy everyone else around you’ craft), ski boats, wake boarding boats, bass boats, explosions (for several days around Independence Day), and the occasional sailboat and kayak.

Life on the lake calms after Labor Day. The boaters become fewer and less boisterous.

Clear Lake is darned near idyll now. Quiet. Calm. Peaceful.

Barge brings a crane across Clear Lake

So when something like thing shows up, it’s interesting. Our lakefront neighbors are putting in docks. Three new docks are going in. They ain’t cheap either. One dock costs as much as a new home in most parts of the country. And it seems to be much quieter than our sounds of summer.

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So, what happens next?

In Poetics, Aristotle called plot the “arrangement of incidents.” More informally, plot is “one damn thing after another.” It’s the answer to “what happens next?” In order for a story not to feel episodic, this has to be answered satisfactorily. Even if the next event is thirty years in the future, it has to feel right.

Crawford Kilian says, “[t]he plot of a story is the synthesis of the plots of its individual characters… If all literature is the story of the quest for identity, then plot is the roadmap of that quest. Every event, every response, should reveal (to us if not to them) some aspect of the characters’ identities.”

Every character in the story has a plot based on their ABCs—Agenda, Backstory, and Conflict (ABCs based on notes taken at Willamette Writers’ Conference at Eric M. Witchey presentation).

Agenda—everybody wants something.
Backstory—everybody has a past that brought him or her to this moment that created the agenda.
Conflict—what happens when one agenda bumps against another agenda.

I bring this up because I am stuck. I actually know what happens next. I’m just stuck on the conflict. The scene is too boring. Even I get tired typing it. People will throw the book (I know it’ll get there to be a book thrown) against the wall in its current state. The conflict is there. I just have to root around a little more.

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