Larger and Larger

I knew when I reached the inevitable crisis of doubt in writing my current WIP, Larger than Life — my certainty that the story was no good, that the writing was no good, and that my talent was no good — that I just needed to press on and the worth of it would come to me. This happened to me (more than once) as I was working through The Sleep of Reason (for which I have no news yet — good or bad — about landing an agent). I was hopeful that Larger than Life would pass through its own dark night of the soul and into a fresh hopefulness.

This happened over the weekend. Two revelations presented themselves as I was making notes about the overall story that gave me the perspective I needed.

One was that I identified a very good controlling metaphor. I’ve already spoken a little bit about it in this post, but I’ve since developed it a great deal more. I’ve often thought that a float trip is an ideal metaphor for life. Long stretches of ease punctuated by quick passages of excitement and challenge. The potential for surprises waiting around each bend. The occasional upset and recovery. I’m not exactly doing this with Larger than Life, but the idea of floating through life, and the various ways one can be seen doing so, will influence how I conceive and thus write the whole novel. I’ve already noted a number of ways a person can feel a weightlessness, literally and figuratively, that I’ll use. Weightlessness, in this sense, can be both good and bad for a character in a developing plot. In fairness to my mysterious creative mechanism, I already had several chapters planned that used this kind of metaphor, but I didn’t realize it. The flash of hopefulness I had over the weekend came in recognizing that this element was recurring in my plot. Once again I am beginning to feel that my story exists somewhere “out there” and that I’m being given the privilege of scribbling it all down.

The second flash of hopefulness came in a realization that my title, Larger than Life, had a second, deeper meaning than I had originally understood. A good character, especially a protagonist, will grow in some way over the course of the story. My protagonist, let’s call him Chris since that’s what I’m already doing, must get outside of himself in order to achieve the change he desperately needs (and sees that he needs). He’ll be able to do so when he makes his life larger than it is. (I also hinted about this idea in this post.) I suppose I had this understanding about the title in some unconscious way from the start. It is a title that just “popped into my head” and I suspect those things don’t generally just happen, at least to creative people.

Anyway, I think perhaps I have achieved the critical mass I mentioned in a recent post. The story has developed sufficiently for me to believe it is whole and worth pursuing across the distance.

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