I wrote 50,091 words. It might be telling that as soon as I noticed I had reached the mark, I stopped writing mid-sentence. It’s not that I don’t believe in this story, but at 11:30 pm after playing trivia at the pub and drinking three 25 ounce beers, after being awake since 3 am and writing regularly throughout the day (5,109 for the day), including a poem, I was a bit tired.
My approach to this novel was entirely exploratory. I wrote three characters I could not normally relate to about subjects literally outside of my experiential scope. I am a 55 year old white male and I wrote about women’s rights; I wrote about a white, privileged, authoritarian, right-winged, American male and I consider myself a white, lower-middle-class, introverted, centrist truth-seeker; I wrote about a woman, a mother, who had sacrificed her career for money, who had sacrificed her dignity for her husband’s empire. for her family’s standing, but who worked through the years to escape the binds; I wrote a high school senior, a girl, who preparing to enter the adult world learns there are adult issues and that being a woman is in no way equal to being a man nor is it fair, but she does not see any reason it cannot be. I knew these people as well as I knew people on the news.
I know them better now, but I don’t honestly know them. I am happiest with my father and daughter stories. I am not so happy with mom’s. I won’t detail the issues or the stories, but Mom’s is rather hyperbolic. Her story pushes my boundaries, and my boundaries are quite malleable.
It is a story told from the three perspectives. Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury and Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible are both on my near-term reading list, both because of they follow similar structures. One of my issues is the interaction. Each character has their own story instead of being a single story. Dad and daughter interact closely, and Mom and Dad do as well, but Mom and the daughter not so much. I expect a lot of pondering, reflective writing (which this blog is), and planning over the next few months. I hope to attack it again in February, but I may never revisit this story.
The writing is mostly active. It is not particularly literary or deep; though at times I dig into more imagery and reflective prose. It borders more on YA than it does adult literary. It’s another decision I have to make: who is its audience? All of the above?
Anyway, here’s a fairly innocent example of Dad (and a conflict already raises its ugly head: he knows from experience he has to walk alone, yet he has rarely done so¿).
Why can’t that woman make a decent pot of coffee? Made fresh and tastes a week old. All you need to do is pour in the pre-packaged grounds and flip the water switch. Does she not clean the pot first? The regular coffee brewers are all in training, and Carl knows from too much experience with difficult clients that he needs to get away from his desk and think, get away from the office and let the insane outside world temper his disdain.
Carl wonders how his city looks so strange in the mid-morning, and thinking back over his career at Harris and Saunders he cannot recall simply walking the streets alone if it was not lunch time or dinner time. He has always been accompanied by his mentor Keith Saunders, his current aging partner, Keith’s brother Peter Saunders, a senior manager, or a client.
He feels lost. He knows the streetlights but only from the view from behind his windshield, raised, perpendicular and parallel, not these angular perspectives. The shops are strange. A Subway shop. How long has that been there? A foreign restaurant. Indian? Egyptian? Turkish? Its letters remind him of when he tried to teach his young kids how to write. Lauren caught on pretty quickly, but Michael took a few years. Boys and girls, they are so different. Carl looks for a coffee shop but can’t find any. Where do all these young hotshots go on their break? He comes to an intersection, looks left, and sees a large, brown coffee cup swinging in the warm breeze.