Saturday, March 26, 2005

Passing On - Pretext

A couple months ago I decided it would be pointless to try writing a novel around my current schedule. I just don't have the raw bank of time required to produce enough creative material so as to flow contiguously. I can create bits and pieces - but lack the time and attention of a master craftsman to assemble those tiles into a mosaic with any kind of grand meaning or flow. All I can do is meander around and make little doodles.

So, true to the desire to minimize labor as often found in programmers, I adjusted my expectations: don't create something big. Try something that can be hung on the fridge before working up to the likes of Carivaggio & company. The new target: a short story, made from pieces I already know well. By lowering the complexity and boiling the task down to easily digestable nuggets I hope to increase the probability of success.

My first attempt is tentatively entitled "Passing On." The setting is simple, voicing is from a single (though evolving) point of view, and the resolution is swift. Little research is required, and the method of presentation works well even when broken apart (making stuttered drafting acceptable). The protagonist is one Charles Becker, a recently retired man (have not yet decided his humble previous occupation) in his 60's whose wife has just suffered an unexpected (no potential warning signs, no family history) stroke.

She has been an almost religious journal keeper; now Charles, faced with an uncertain future as he watches his wife's life and health transformed, feels compelled to continue that regularity even if it wasn't his to begin with. The method of evolving his entries into a clear representation of his character (not having been familiar with written expression previously) is challenge enough; to do so while he also undegoes this unique stress makes it a moving target. Still potentially difficult, but thankfully limited in scope.

Eventually Ruth dies. Having her slowly expire creates a poignant backdrop for the presentation of life. And not just her life; after-all, Charles has been married to this woman for roughly 40 years. He has no need to rehearse events or descriptions which to him are well known and documented in the body of her previous journals. Instead his writings will be reflection and insight on feeling as framed by new perspective wrought by circumstance.

Writing about a man's deep and abiding love for his wife will be thoroughly enjoyable. Taking her from him to evoke the heightened stakes required for that tenderness to come about in such honest and innocent (though still retaining typical human flaws), unpretensious(sp?) manner sets a fertile stage.

Some of my notes and entry sketches will be making it here shortly. Thought I'd give you few readers a heads-up.

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