Friday, March 9, 2012

Where Did That Come From?!

At Pavilions, I got the battered fish I've been waiting all week for (Fairly decent, but the crust at the edges was too hard), and while Meridith and I ticked a few tasks off her Pavilions list, I found in the cart a Las Vegas travel guide published by the Los Angeles Times. I flipped through it, finding ads for the Stratosphere, Carrot Top, Menopause: The Musical, and an ad for Phantom of the Opera, announcing "Final Months - Performances End September 2, 2012".

On the third to last page, there was a brief article about the Pinball Hall of Fame on East Tropicana Avenue, with photos of pinball machines and players framing it. The final three paragraphs nearly made my heart stop.

For two years now, I've had an idea for a novel that partly involves pinball, that's also a modern-day adaptation of a classic novel. The twist is that I haven't read that novel yet. I will, but what I know of it so far made me think about setting it in the United States today. I think that will only be made stronger when I actually read the novel.

The last three paragraphs in that article presented to me clearly what motivates my main character, why he's doing what he's doing. I'd been having trouble thinking of the "why" in the few times that I considered this novel, and this revelation makes me much more excited to work on this. I brought the travel guide home, especially for that article.

After dinner, I opened up the Word file for my novel and received a major shock: I wrote half a chapter, and I didn't even know I wrote it! I don't even know when I wrote it. It had to have been before I finished writing my share of What If They Lived? Maybe I had done it to let off some stress from working on that book.

The two pages, 1,287 words, read well enough, but it obviously needs a lot of work and certainly more words. I read it three times, and found that it captures the atmosphere I want. After I read those three paragraphs in that travel guide, I also was thinking about who these two characters would be, why they are the way they are, not knowing that here it was for me, already planned out.

It's a first-person narrative, from the perspective of the unwitting sidekick to the main character. I'm going to stick with that because I think if I wrote it from the perspective of the main character, it would be crazier than a reader could stand. What's the truth? What's not? The sidekick, incredulous as he becomes, at least remains clear-eyed about the journey taken.

But then, it could all change. I'm not sure yet. I'm still learning about who these two guys are. The only thing I'm sure of is that my working title is not going to be the actual title. Too obvious twice over. There's nothing in either word that would make someone want to pick up my novel to see what it's about.

The other day, I finished reading On Gratitude, which has interviews with celebrities about gratitude and what their favorite things are in their lives, and their working methods, especially those of the writers interviewed. Danielle Steel was one of the interviews, and she says she works on three to five books at a time. I can't get there yet. After we move to Henderson and I get settled, I want to work on two writing projects concurrently, but that's probably as far as I'll go. I'm going to read the source material for this novel, though, and get to know my characters more, because I want this one to work. I feel like this one could be something good.


  1. Menopause: The Musical? Oh, Lord, how I wish I'd written that. Songs about hot flashes followed by chills and night sweats and tears and grouchiness. At least that's what I'd write about. And forgetfulness. I almost forgot that one.


  2. Sounds fun! I usually balk at first person tales, but that's a personal preference thing more than anything else. I like the idea of writing it from the sidekick's perspective... sort of like Watson/Holmes, eh?

    Good luck.

  3. In my forthcoming interview that you'll be posting on your website, David, I didn't mention The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty as one of the "newer titles" that is starting to settle in and become concrete as one of my favorites, because I'm still getting used to it. It'll get there, but I only just recently read it, so it takes some time. It's first person, and deftly maneuvers between present and past, so I think it'll be an inspiration to me as I write this novel. I do want to read other first person novels, though, and, as a result, reread Travels with My Aunt by Graham Greene, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow, The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, and Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck.

    Watson/Holmes, yes, but with Watson trying to figure out just what the hell he's gotten himself into.

    I watched YouTube videos of The Pinball Circus machine, and learned from Wikipedia that the designer retired to his farm in Michigan after leaving the industry. I hope he can still be contacted some way because I'd like to interview him about his experience designing this particular machine, as research. I'm thinking of creating a fictional pinball machine for my main character's search. I have an idea for the theme, but I think it best to learn what this designer did before I go further, because I want this fictional machine to be as complex.