riding a wave of momentum
Well, the grandson (#1) has completed his three-week visit and has gone home to New York. Granddaughter (#1) has made her appearance in Oregon but has not yet travelled to meet me. Grandson #2 has not yet arrived. Seriously cold weather has returned to my part of the country. With all of this social liberty, and the hostility of the outside world, I chose to hole up for the past weekend and try to get a comprehensive sense of my Fathers and Sons stories. This involved reading all of them in the order of their internal chronology to see what worked, what isn’t working, what holes still need to be filled, and how much farther this journey will go.
One thing I learned early in this effort is that I truly love sentence fragments.
Here’s what else I’ve learned.
- I’ve written 16 of these stories (most still in draft mode). I hadn’t realized there were that many.
- Of these, four have been published and one is accepted for publication.
- Two unpublished stories were sent to magazines for consideration over the weekend. (Go me!)
- Some of these are very, very good. Some need lots and lots of work.
- These 16 stories currently comprise more than 46,000 words.
- One, of more than 4,400 words, may not make the cut. (It’s one of those that needs lots and lots of work.)
- I have three stories still to write in the cycle as I conceive it.
- I expect the three remaining stories to contribute about 10,000 words.
- The cycle has a specific starting date in real time: the spring of 1968. I need to give more effort to pinning down more precisely when the subsequent stories occur given that starting point, mostly to know the age of the characters.
- The overall cycle is mostly about the middle character (both a son and a father), Davey. That was not my original intent, but I have no complaint. I understand this boy/man.
- There is a lot of skinny-dipping in the stories. Also peeing in the forest. And talk of underpants. Trust me; it’s thematic.
- Memory is important in the stories. Good memory. Lost memory. Faulty memory. Made-up memory.
- Even people who deeply love each other will hide things from each other or find they cannot say some things.
- Most of the stories I’ve written with a first-person narrator sound wrong and jarring. Gonna have to fix that. (I used first person in these cases to emphasize the self deception people can commit, but I can probably do it just as well with a third-person narrator.)
I don’t know if I’ll discover I need more stories or not. Given that the middle character gets most of the attention, I may conclude that the grandfather and/or the grandson needs more development.
Part of the point of the comprehensive read through was to spur cross pollination, and I think it is working. Though each story is intended to stand on its own (at least the ones that are published or that I’m trying to get published), they are interrelated. So an insight in one might serve a purpose in several other stories. Similarly, there are tropes that pop up in the stories to tie them together or at least give tangibility to the universe they are in. Cotton flannel shirts are an example of this. Repeated adjectives another (“green, green eyes”). My hope is that more things like this will occur to me in the coming days and weeks as a result of the read through, and I can go back to the stories with these fortifying elements.
I spent the entire weekend in sweats (except for an hour or so on the treadmill). I brushed and flossed twice and showered at least once.
I know it all sounds so very creative and glamorous, but I assure you it’s hard work. When it all comes together in the end (should I live that long), it will be a beautiful thing. (Just like you are!)