Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The dream of the bugs, and the first step

Now that was quite a dream.

After an extended adventure, the details of which are a little fuzzy - was it a childhood frolic with a little pal or a traveling trip of a more adult nature? - I was sitting inside with a little pal. He was reading comics, and I still had a bit of the wandering bug, so I went for a walk outside. After a few steps, it was clear something odd was happening in the field near the house.

I couldn't see them as much as sense them, and I could hear a low buzzing. Bugs and beetles, lots and lots and lots of them, from one kid-horizon to the other, not so many that the ground was black with them - I could see all of the vegetation of a typical meadow - but enough that my concern was elevated. I wasn't frightened so much as extremely curious and knowing I should stay out of their way if they decided to swarm, and they seemed to be preparing to leave.

I walked quickly back into the house and told my little pal, "You should see all the bugs out there, there must be millions of 'em," and just then the buzzing rose in intensity and hundreds of bugs were clinging to the window screen. Not that they wanted to come in and hurt us, the screen just got in their way. Not black bugs, kind of a light brown and semi-transparent against the sun - at least the ones on the screen; I knew there were bugs of all shapes and sizes in that way that you know things in dreams. After a few seconds they moved on. I was glad to be in the house, because while they didn't appear to be hungry bugs, the sensation of millions of flying creatures banging into me and brushing past on the way to wherever would probably have been a little ticklish in a creepy way. Then, darn it, the alarm clock beeped.

The combination of my recent reading, and the reaction to my musings about The Fountainhead especially, motivated me to write down short descriptions of four main characters in my Great American Freedom Novel the other day. Not a lot of detail, barely half a page of an old-fashioned composition book I bought a year ago for 12 cents at the most amazing school-supply clearance sale I've seen in a long time. (When the cashier at Target rang my nine items up for $1.12 including sales tax, we both did a double take.) The main point is I know the basic motivations of four folks. I'm not sure how they will interact, their genders or what they will do, but I have a feel for who they are, and I know which one is the hero - or at least which one will prevail. And don't worry, I didn't copy Roark, Toohey, Keating and Wynand, except in the sense that they possess certain qualities in different measures, and four seemed like the right number. (Now I will have to resist the temptation to re-create a Dominique Falcon, though.) But that's probably true of all sets of fictional characters, I imagine. And the worst thing I could do is start second-guessing myself at this stage.

After the dream and the alarm clock, I lay in bed thinking how pleasant it would be to rest another hour or so. Then a sentence came to me - not an original sentence by any means whatsoever, but a sentence - "Even as a child, it was clear there was something unusual about him." I climbed out of bed, took my allotment of pills and made coffee while trying to hold onto the bug-dream and expanding on that first sentence in my mind.

As the coffee trickled into the pot upstairs (I can smell it - wait just a few more minutes, B.W.), I banged out four paragraphs. When the novel is done, we'll see whether "Even as a child, etc." is the beginning of the novel or somewhere else toward the beginning, middle or end. Maybe it'll even end up on the cutting room floor. But I have four characters, and four paragraphs. It's a start. (Do you think the groups of four represent a pattern or a coincidence?)

A friend who's going through one of those serious life's challenges that only are supposed to happen to other people sent me a note after I told him about the four characters. He wants an autographed copy of the book and time to read it, and the doctors' prognosis is a little less than optimistic about making it five years. Well, this is a guy with the spirit and ability to beat the odds, but just in case, I have a deadline. (Um, maybe I shouldn't phrase it with that word?) Anyone who works with deadlines knows how powerful they are. I'm moved that he would care enough to give me one.

And I'm started. Take that, you pesky little quotidian.

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Anonymous sunni said...

Huzzah!!! :-D

9:22 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

I thought it was the Law of Fives.

5:02 PM  
Anonymous CK said...

Congrats on your assault on the quotidian. Something for you to consider as you strive to produce excellence :
His latest column on Things Lost.

8:02 AM  
Blogger B.W. Richardson said...

Excellent reading, as usual from Fred. Thanks!!!

9:23 AM  

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