First, a note. Posting here is going to continue to be sporatic until after the new year. You never know when I’ll post, but it will probably only be once a week or so. However, I am lining up guests for January, and hope to be in the swing of things with the start of 2012!
Sometimes research leads you to abandon a promising plotline.
I was writing my Beauty and the Beast story and realized that the Beast’s aunt needed to be in the story. So I threw in an older middle-aged woman, and made her slightly cantankerous and bossy but with a heart of gold, and then I realized she was a dreadful stereotype. So I tried to think of a distinctly Irish-type character who was not a stereotype.
That’s when I thought about making her a nun.
Yeah, so among the Irish, having a nun for an aunt is kind of stereotypical. Even I have one. (Well, she was a great aunt.) But not all of us are Irish, are we? And my experience reading in fiction certainly does not include many nuns.
I wish Aunty Peg were still alive, because she would have been a girl during the time I am writing this story. She would remember what it was like. I know what nuns and convents were like when I was a girl; I very much had an Irish upbringing, despite being born in the United States.
I even stayed in a convent for a week when I was 11. We were in the midst of moving during the Christmas, and Sr. Gabriel was one of the only nuns who stayed behind that year during their annual trip back to Ireland. So we stayed with her in the mostly-empty convent. We ran around through the graveyard, played in the choir loft of the adjacent church, peeked into the convent chapel, and drank kettlefuls of tea. You can’t even imagine how fun it was.
This took place in the late 70s, after Vatican II, so the 20th century changes to convent life had already taken place. Reading the Vatican II summaries was interesting, but didn’t have what I needed. Since I didn’t have Aunt Peg, I interviewed my mom to find out if nuns back then were free to move about the community, which I needed in the story. And according to her, they always went about in twos, and were pretty restricted outside the convent. (Although within the convent was another story.)
So it looks like my nun character might not work out. I think I need to dig up some letters or diaries to be certain, or maybe find a nonfiction book. Or maybe I’ll just write her to keep the story going and make any adjustments later. She wouldn’t be the first character I’ve written and thrown away.
Most likely, I’ll morph that character again. She needs to come from a wealthy Irish background. Any ideas?