Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Strange Evolution of Tales

Well, V has been in holding pattern for awhile, but for good reason: the story itself, that is, not in its details but in its very essence, is still evolving. But it is indeed evolving, rapidly and dramatically and in quite unexpected directions.

If there is one thing I have learned as a fiction writer, it is that stories, the truest and best stories I am capable of writing, must write themselves at least as much as I write them. This is definitely what happened with Bluebird, and it is what I am allowing to happen with V. Bluebird sat for two months between my latest and greatest vision for the story and the start of the actual writing. What I have discovered in the last month is that V is not quite at the point of being ready to be written. It is in the process of letting me know what it is.

And I can tell you that this unfolding revelation is nothing if not surprising. The story as I imagine it now bears only a minor resemblance to the story I originally conceived six years ago. That story was born at a much different time in my life and reflected my life at that time. Out of necessity, it is being drastically reshaped to reflect my life at this time, and this process is being guided not so much by my conscious effort as by the powerful gravitational force of the world in which I currently live.

The science fiction element of the story is becoming far less central, although it will undoubtedly remain important, since the whole concept of the tale has to do with eros and cosmos. But the space travel elements are moving more into the background, as a sort of underlying context, giving a greater stage to the earthbound, human aspect of the story.

In fact, one critical item I am still not sure about is the exact relationship between the two parallel narratives: on the one hand, the space exploration program, and on the other hand, the protagonist's life story. As in some postmodern novels, I am starting to feel that perhaps the two narratives will exist in different orders of reality that bear an ambiguous relationship to each other and to objective historical truth. I also am starting to feel that, whatever the relationship between the narratives might be, I don't need to be overly concerned with attempting to explain it, or even fully to understand it myself. After all, it is not history I am writing, but poetry.

To further complicate matters, a third narrative is suggesting itself to me. What makes this one particularly interesting is that it involves Thomas Fairchild, the protagonist of The Bluebird of Happiness, thus creating a link between the two novels without making V an actual sequel. I had already been thinking that Thomas's poetic masterpiece would be referenced in the fictional future of V, but now that element is becoming much more prominent. I am starting to think that part of the story will entail the protagonist conducting research into Thomas's life and work and the relation between the two, in an attempt to understand his own situation.

In any case, what I have realized the most is that I am not so interested in the science fictional elements as I am in the more earthly, realistic, and human elements. This is perhaps because I have discovered in recent times that real life is far stranger and more fascinating than any fantasy we can devise.

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