Thursday, November 08, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #59



Thirteen Things About My NaNoWriMo Novel


1. The title is Spring Fever

2. It started out as a simple romance, a love story, but then it got really complex.

3. Musing on spring, got me musing on seasons and from there to the cycle of life and death which fit nicely with my poet character, Holly Dawn Harper. She was already suffering from MS so it was likely she would be musing on these things too. So I gave the body of her work the theme of the four seasons. This would feature the seasonal cycles of sky, weather, flora and fauna along with various culture rites associated with seasons.

4. Holly's interest in seasons is one manifestation of the novel's exploration of time.

Concepts of time are expressed in a variety of ways by various cultures so I wanted to give each of my three POV characters a different ethnic heritage and to make things even more complex they each got mixed heritage so that there would be more concepts in the dynamic--the dynamic operating within each of their psyches and the dynamic operating within the relationships between them. Holly is part Amerindian and was raised on a reservation.

5. Holly is approaching forty and is married to Graham Palmer Simons who is a professor of ancient and medieval literature with a special focus on the poets and a personal passion for Dante's Divine Comedy.

6. Graham's heritage is Catholic and Jewish. His training as a academic also impacts his concept of time as knowledge of the historical milieu of a piece of literature is part of a complete comprehension of it. He is also multi-lingual, speaking several languages and reading several more and thus his interest in the etymology of words would also impact his concept of time.

7. Graham, as is reflected by the meaning of his name 'from a gray manor; stern', is the quintessential professor. A man of authority who rules himself by the same code he expects others to adhere to. He is in his early fifties and a bit hidebound.

8. Thus he is more than a bit distressed when Holly, who is also a professor, agrees to take on as advisee a grad student who wants to do her MFA thesis in mixed medium (poetry, song, dance, art etc.) organized around the Tarot as a storehouse of archetypes, metaphors and symbols that can communicate across cultures because they are grounded in the universal human psyche. He feels this is a frivolous waste of Holly's precious time and energy.

9. And so enters Maia Rhiannon Robins. (notice I changed her middle name since the last time I posted about her) Maia's heritage is Celtic mixed with something else which I've not settled on yet. To add to her image of frivolousness in Graham's eyes, she gives birth to an infant out of wedlock. But Maia can hold her own against Graham's scorn, deflecting his often caustic remarks with humor. She is not going to allow the friction between them to endanger her opportunity to work with her long-time hero, Holly. Maia's concept of time is influenced by her experience with music and dance as well as her passion for mythology and story.

10. Holly sees in the dynamic of Maia and Graham's relationship similarities to the beginning of her own relationship with Graham over sixteen years earlier and, suspecting that she has entered the end-stages of MS, chooses to encourage it, for she fears for Graham in the event of her death for he, like Dante, had lost his first love (a childhood sweetheart) while he was himself a grad student and had withdrawn into a decade long frozen wasteland of the spirit. Holly does not want this to happen to him again. So she offers Maia the job of helping her organize her papers and invites the young mother and infant to board with them. (Note: she has no intention, nor do I, of encouraging any infidelity)

11. The relationship between Holly and Maia is as important in the story as that between Maia and Graham and that between Graham and Holly. Holly and Maia quickly bond on a very deep level which soon has them sharing their most intimate hopes, dreams, desires, fears, regrets etc. Holly will share with Maia her thwarted desire to be a mother and confesses that early in their marriage she and Graham had frozen embryos in hopes that she would be able carry one to term during one of the intermittent remissions of the MS.

12. Maia, after careful thought and realizing it means that ethically Holly cannot remain her thesis adviser, offers to be a surrogate. Holly accepts but fearing Graham's refusal of the plan follows through without his knowledge. She wants this for him as much as for herself. She knows that his sense of duty will not allow him to neglect his child so, even if the relationship between Maia and Graham does not take the direction she envisions, the child would anchor him in life.

13. I've mapped out 22 chapters (major events) organized around the Tarot's Major Arcana. Each chapter takes on the themes reflected in the cards but not necessarily their titles. Nor do I follow their typical order. Each chapter is narrated through the POV of one of the three though not in strict alternation. (Holly's last chapter is the 14th at about the three-quarter mark in the story arc.) Each chapter also features a season except that the first and last chapters feature all four. Spring, of course, gets more billing than the other seasons.

Oh, and even though I set out to venture outside the boundary of my Fruit of the Spirit story world, I'm now teetering on the edge of bringing one and possibly two characters from FOS stories in as supporting actors because they have the profession needed and are already so well envisioned. The same goes for the college or university featured in two FOS stories. I'm still torn on that though as that risks allowing this story to get all tangled up in the FOS time line which became such an inhibiting factor during 70 Days of Sweat last summer. It is harder to generate word count when you keep getting side-tracked fiddling with a hundred some inter-related (by marriage and other relationships) characters and a sixty-odd year overarching story arc.


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