always refining

My wife, who is discerning and who is my initial reader, had commented the other day that my Fathers and Sons story “The Lonely Road” isn’t so much about the relationship between a father and a son as it is between a husband and a wife. This is not a bad thing, of course. That is certainly worthy and fruitful subject matter. And while I do think the father son relationship is explored a bit there, between David feeling he has disappointed his father and David fearing he will disappoint his son, I can see that these are only tangential to the bigger plot. David is struggling with himself, and he, too, is lucky to have a discerning wife.

I think I mentioned here in a recent post that I’ve come to realize that my Fathers and Sons stories are pretty much actually chapters from what could be considered a slightly non-standard novel. They certainly all operate within the same fictional universe, and as I write them, I see the implications of them to each other. So I’m often going back to another of the stories to refine it now that I have a better picture of the universe they all exist in.

So these stories, which are intended to be able to stand alone, are also part of a bigger whole. And, for good or ill, that is how I comprehend them. I know what’s coming. I know what leads to any given point in each story. I know things the general reader does not, and so a general reader (even a certain discerning one who has read all of the stories in their clumsy draft form) can miss the overarching father and son relationship theme.

For example, in “The Lonely Road” I have David chastising himself for the “stupid thing” he has done. I think it’s pretty clear that this stupid thing is getting his girlfriend pregnant at 17 (and so David starts down the fatherhood road), but I have a whole story that recounts that incident: two healthy and excited teenagers at a quiet cabin in the Ozark forest. So I had that background in my mind as I wrote the later story. The reader, at this point, wouldn’t. (Though when the inevitable collection is published . . . ) And as much as I tried to hint at David’s relationship with his father in “The Lonely Road”, I did as well in that other story. (And it wasn’t easy fitting a father into a story about first-time sex between two kids, trust me.)

But I also have a whole story just discussing the importance of that cabin in the woods to the family. And a reader of “The Lonely Road” won’t know that at this point, but I do. This story does delve more deeply into the relationships between the two fathers and the two sons. But my point is (and I do have a point) that I need to be careful that I don’t assume that the reader knows as much as I do about the story, the characters, and their backgrounds.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Fathers and Sons, Humble efforts

2 Comments on “always refining”

  1. MSB Says:

    Good point. And I have to tell you, I was also drawn to the relationship between husband and wife and not just because I’m a wife and have a husband. I think this question of hope or faith in a relationship is a universal one.

  2. Averil Dean Says:

    What a lovely story. I so enjoyed that last quiet vignette at the end of the day, with all its intimacy and tenderness. Well done, you.


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