Friday, March 22, 2013

Notes From Somewhere Over the Rainbow

First of all, I really need to come up with a real title for "Rainbow". I'm not going to force it though; I have faith that the right title will present itself when it's ready. My ideas about the novel continue to develop rather fruitfully but, despite my excitement, I don't want to say too much about it at this point. It's still in the pre-production phase of development, but is coming together nicely.

One thing I can say about it without giving away too much is that its themes are becoming clearer in my mind. One of the dominant themes, I am coming to realize, has to do with vision, perception, and imagination, particularly with respect to knowing other people and knowing oneself, but also with respect to knowing reality in general.

Martin Lane, like his author, wears glasses and has suffered poor vision since childhood. But this physical defect stands in sharp contrast to the powerful vision of his poetic and artistic imagination (I am speaking of my character, not myself), which enables him to see things that others cannot. In a way, this is a variation of the old motif of Homer, the blind poet.

A big question in the story, as it was in Bluebird, is whether imagination distorts and deforms our vision of reality, or whether it actually enhances and expands that vision. In the former novel, this question was explored mainly in the context of Thomas Fairchild's idealized, unrequited love for Alexandra Grey, a woman he hardly knows, but in "Rainbow", it will be illustrated more broadly, both in terms of Martin's perception of other people, and in terms of others' perceptions of Martin... and even in Martin's perception of himself. As with the first novel, I will again alternate between the protagonist's first-person point of view and the accounts of other characters.

When I first invented Martin, almost by accident, back in 1997 (he was actually, originally, a co-creation with my friend and fellow writer Bill Rogers), he started out as what I now think of as a "mythic persona", based on hearsay about a real person, but more a product of the creative imagination than anything else. So it is very fitting, and perhaps only natural, that the novel centering on Martin should largely deal with the theme of how we know others by way of imagination.


So what is going on, meanwhile, with the novel referred to as "V"? Well, something interesting (to me, at least). As I described before, the original story concept dated from 2006, and it was originally only supposed to be a short story. When I recently whittled the story down to its essence, what remained was essentially the original short story concept (which could possibly assume the length of a novella). However, since then I have realized that the newer ideas could form a story unto themselves, entirely separate from the original 2006 concept.

I have been quoting passages from the work-in-production on my Facebook page with the tag "V is for V". This was of course not the actual title ("V" itself being an abbreviation of the title), but ever since I came up with that tag, I thought that this phrase "V is for V" had kind of an interesting ring to it, as well as a certain significance--about signification itself. So I am entertaining the notion that the new story concept (the one that occurred to me last September) might actually be titled "V is for V", and that the older story idea will retain the original title.

Although it had evolved into a story of epic proportions, I am thinking now that it will actually be much shorter, either an extended short story or a novella (it seems many of my story concepts fall into that middle ground)--but one that, through conciseness, density, and suggestion (these, of course, being qualities of poetry), will still have something of an epic feel to it. I have long been fascinated by the idea of relatively small-scale art works that contain whole worlds within them, like worlds in miniature.

One reason for the separation is that the two stories are rather different from each other in feel, tone, and theme. I had incorporated the old story as one component of the new story, but it seemed a bit of an odd fit. The old story is more sensual, meditative, and delicately dreamlike, whereas the new story (i.e., "V is for V") is more visionary, tragic, and coldly austere (which makes it similar in tone, I think, to Bluebird... not surprisingly, since it was born on the heels of that novel's completion).

This development is interesting to me too in that it shows me how my general mood has changed since last fall, when what I am now calling "V is for V" essentially replaced the older story. The new idea better fit my mood at the time, but now I have returned to a place where I can also find interest in the old story idea.

For that matter, the tone of "Rainbow" is quite distinct from that of The Bluebird of Happiness. It is not nearly as dark and full of suffering, but it fills me with a different sort of inspiration. It is basically the telling of Martin Lane's life story, though it will not be told in strict chronological order, and will combine his own account with the accounts of other characters. His story will likely not appear as tragic as that of his friend Thomas Fairchild, but I think it will still seem mysterious, strange, and, in its own way, fearful (more wonder than terror).

At least it does to me, Martin's creator (or perhaps, the receiver of the muse's vision of Martin). I can only imagine it would appear that way to those to whom I tell his tale.

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