So ... I started the second half of the novel over again, this time with the main character encountering a young runaway girl who billed herself as living with an elderly ill grandmother. She breaks into their shed to steal a horse blanket and begs off a couple bananas another day with the story that they were making banana bread and when they opened their perfectly yellow bananas found that they were too bruised up to use (and they didn't want to throw out the already mixed ingredients). At this point the girl is doing some light labor in the garden for the woman and the woman gives her a few bucks here and there for her trouble. She has gone on two garden field trips with the family (she said she is home schooled). She is burrowing into their hearts.
And then, I get to the part where the rubber hits the road and I feel stuck all over again. It is like I'm trying to write outside of my element (which is true, since I'm a YA writer attempting a women's novel). I need to research what would truly happen if a family provided shelter for a runaway (even if they did not understand her true dilemma) and I cannot seem to find knowledgeable individuals ready to share their information with me. I had written to a CPS worker when the character was a younger abused child and was curtly told that "As a practitioner, such a request cannot be honored."
In other research, I've found the most common response is "policy dictates that we are not able to respond to something along these lines." It is frustrating. I am trying to write about something I have no experience with and am having trouble envisioning it all on my own, yet research is like attempting some kind of covert mission for the CIA. I guess what I really need is friends in high places and I don't have such friends.
So, as we approach the days where the boys will be home full time and the holidays will disrupt writing mojo, I've decided to set the whole thing aside. It breaks my heart because my old pattern (prior to the Nanowrimo experience) was always to start and then set aside. In the last eight years, I've never failed to complete a manuscript and I don't really want to do that. However, it is quite possible that the story line simply needs some time to simmer in my brain. I need to come up with a solution that still provides intense redemptive possibilities without veering into the "off-limits" territory of child abuse policy. What is clear is that the secondary character in Part Two needs some form of help from the primary character and the help that she provides will bring healing both to her own soul and to the heart and soul of the secondary character. Those are big shoes to fill. God does it all the time. Sadly, I'm not him.
For now, my plan is to ruminate on the obstacles and possibilities for a few weeks and then pick the writing back up in January with the same fervor of a Nanowrimo month. When I spoke with my parents this weekend, they expressed concern that I had given up on my most recent YA novel (the one I believe is my best effort yet). I haven't. Even despite setbacks and discouragement and the rejection of a pursued agent, I will get back to marketing that book. But here again, I need some time off. So, I'm giving up to spend time focused on the holidays.