Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Everything Old Is New Again

I have decided that the "Rainbow" novel is definitely about Martin Lane, who played the main supporting actor role in Bluebird. The idea of writing a novel with Martin as the protagonist is actually far from a new concept.

My original conceptions of Martin go back to 1997, although it wasn't until 2003 that he emerged as a definite character that I intended to write about. At the time, I imagined him as the main character in what was then called The Terrible Blue (eventually The Bluebird of Happiness). This was part of a radical re-imagining of the novel that up until then had been the story of Thomas Fairchild. Martin actually remained the main character as late as November 2011--only six months before my final grand vision of Bluebird--at which time I decided to revert to the original idea of having the novel revolve around Thomas.

However, while there is nothing new about the basic idea of writing a novel with Martin Lane as the protagonist, "Rainbow" is for all practical purposes an entirely new conception, and bears little resemblance to my earlier ideas of Martin's story. As I mentioned before, when "Rainbow" began forming in my imagination not even two weeks ago, I at first wasn't even sure if it was going to be about Martin. However, as time has gone on it has become more and more clear to me that it is about Martin, and that it can only be about him. That realization makes so much sense, has made everything fall into place, and is also just a very exciting idea to me. I feel that I am seeing a fuller and richer vision of who Martin Lane is, and there is so much there to explore.

I mentioned earlier that "Rainbow" bore a close resemblance to Bluebird, which initially made me concerned that I risked falling into the predicament of writing essentially the same story again and again. I am no longer worried about that. True, "Rainbow" and Bluebird do share many similar features and qualities, not the least of which being that they share some of the same characters. However, even though it involves the same fictional world, "Rainbow" has its own very distinct feeling. I think this is because each story reflects the "soul" of its main character. In Bluebird, one gets inside the head of Thomas Fairchild; in "Rainbow", one will get inside the head of Martin Lane. Because of this, each novel has its own unique vibe--emotional, intellectual, and aesthetic. In short, each novel has its own "personality", reflective of the personality of its main character.

(This makes me wonder about the exact relationship between my characters and myself, which is beginning to seem all the more fascinating, perplexing, and mysterious to me now. But that is a topic best saved for its own separate post.)

In the same way that Bluebird possessed, in my imagination, a strange power and mystery (which I was hopefully able to convey in the work itself), "Rainbow" has its own strange power and mystery, different from that of Bluebird. Like its predecessor, "Rainbow" is, in my own mind, a work that is musical, visionary, and ecstatic. It is a different music, a different vision, and a different ecstasy, and will express a different myth than the one told by Bluebird.

Oz, the quintessential American fairyland, was a prominent motif in Bluebird, but "Rainbow" will further develop that motif. Long before I actually wrote Bluebird, I had begun developing my own private mythology and symbolism of Oz in relation to the story. However, this was brought out only partially in the first novel. One thing "Rainbow" will allow me to do is more fully to explore and express my personal Oz mythos.

I am beginning to realize, too, that one thing I am very interested in doing as a writer is to show the endless mystery of human beings. Although much more will be revealed about Martin Lane than in the first book, he will not really be explained. In fact, if I am successful, he will seem even more mysterious at the end than he does at the beginning. I hope and believe that Thomas Fairchild and his experience were left more mysterious at the end of Bluebird, and I hope and believe that the same will be true of Martin Lane at the end of "Rainbow". As with all knowledge, the more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know. This is truer of nothing more than it is of human beings.

"Rainbow" is largely about Martin Lane coming to know himself. Like the reader, he will know much more about himself at the end, but, also like the reader, one thing he will have learned about himself is what a wondrous and mysterious, and never fully knowable, creature he really is.

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