Friday, May 09, 2008

Notes for a New Project

I'm barely done with the hard work of the last project and still going through it again before I send it out to readers, and my mind is already mulling over the next project.

The jumping off point is a man, up early in the morning, sees one of his neighbors sneaking out of the house of another neighbor. Their spouses are either out of town or working. The man watching is shocked and disturbed by the affair. They are both people that the man and his wife know well from the neighborhood. People they would never think of as doing this sort of thing. It sews doubts in him. It takes him a while to tell his wife, worried at first that she is aware and hasn't told him. It disturbs the foundation for both of them.

I want to do this in a very different style than the last project. I want to be close in, more stream of consciousness, more modern. And I want forward action. So much of what I've been doing involves recall, people looking back and scenes occurring back in the past. And, unlike what I've been doing, this would not be an ensemble work. I want this to be a linear novel, at least on a linear timeline, which seems to require some sort of adventure, a plot. The trouble is that I often resort to a course of disintegration. And certainly that needs to happen here.

This minor neighborhood intrigue, the affair, sets his marriage on edge. Things get turned upside down, things that once seemed firm become fragile. An underlying unhappiness comes to light. His wife, it turns out, is unhappier than he is. She thought she was destined for a different life. In the arts, dance, theatre, with creative types, not here in the suburbs married to this man. It's a pedestrian life.

For him, it's more than the marriage, it's about right from wrong, about justice, and also about what's hidden. If this thing across the street has been going on, what else doesn't he know about? Couldn't his wife be having an affair? Could he have an affair? I'm think this is where it leads him. He sees an opening, the foundations are not solid, and he could be a different person. He could be someone who has affair. He could quit his job, leave his family, and do anything he wants. So, does he go this course, or is it about his consideration of these options?

It seems like it requires some adventures, misadventures. Maybe he makes a move on his neighbor who is having the affair. Or a waitress, or someone else. Maybe he decides to confront the man. The man had been his friend, maybe they played poker together, and maybe they fight. And what about the children? They must have kids. What is his relationship to them?

While this situation opens up some underlying unhappiness for my character's wife, what he must go through is more existential. It shakes the walls, unsettles his sense of being. He'd really only been hanging on a thread as it was. He was achieving great things, on a particular path. And maybe it was stealing his soul, or maybe he never had it to begin with.


  1. Sounds intriguing. Clearly you do a lot more pre-writing conceptualization than me. I usually just wing it.

  2. When an idea sticks with me, it tends to brew in my head for awhile. And expand.

    When the concept first came, I was think of just a short story. As it swirls around, without yet writing anything, it gets bigger and bigger.