Thursday, March 31, 2011

Piece of the novel

Okay, so getting over my anxiety about leaving this open for everyone to read (does every artist get that...?). This is a passage from early in the novel. It's a conversation between the character and his little bro.

"            Are you awake
            I can’t really sleep right now
            Yeah me neither
            My brother and I shared a room, we were visiting somewhere, we slept on strange couches, we are young.
            I want to play mega man
            We would get in trouble
            I don’t think mom or dad would hear do you?
            I think so but I don’t know
            What colors would you want to be
            Do I just get to pick one?
            Ok pick two
            I would be the red and gold quick one and the metal one
            I would take the blue one and the freezing one
            Why would you be the freezing one?
            He can stop time and shoot you, you couldn’t do anything
            Yeah actually that’s a good one
            How do you know what colors you see are the ones I see
            Because we can both see red is red?
            No but what if I saw red as your yellow, but we just learn them as the same
            I don’t know… that is weird
            I know, weird
            I wouldn’t want to be the green one
            But what if he was actually the pink one
            We laugh
            They both kind of suck
            No they don’t!
            We laugh        
            I know, the pink one is good
            Yeah I know!
            We laugh
            It would be cool if you could get multiple lives
            Yeah, that would be cool. And if you could just find them around, like on different levels. You could get a bunch of them stored up.
            That would be cool, I bet we would be good too.
            Yeah, really
            But what would happen if you didn’t have any more lives?
            You would just die
            You don’t think you would start over?
            Hmm… maybe
            Yeah, maybe… I wonder what it’s like to be dead.
            I don’t really know. I think it would probably be dark, but that’s about all I know
            Unless you were in heaven
            Yeah, then it’d be different
            I wonder what heaven is like
            I don’t know, I just think of a bunch of clouds and light things and a blue sky
            Yeah, I think of that one too, and God has a beard that’s white
            Uhhuh. I wonder what Hell is like.
            Shut up, I don’t want to talk about that!
            Okay, I just mean I wonder what you know…
            Are you okay?
            It sat heavily upon both of our minds, we no longer spoke, we both looked blankly towards the white ceiling turned black with shadow. A fan hummed slowly above, we both watched it carefully, the severity of an eternal torture fresh and new, unexposed to the staleness it would eventually carry. The staleness of a red devil with a mustache, a pitchfork, the severity not yet diminished for repetition. The fires and oranges and demons and torture, and to be cast away from god and everyone else who went to heaven. And in the scope of one hundred years of life, eternity was anything but trivial, the implications of an afterlife were far but real. But children go to heaven, as long as they’re baptized, maybe even if they’re not, it’s not obvious.
            And where was death, how would I know it was coming, how could something be forever.
            Do you think you could really live forever?
            I think so… what else would there be?
            I don’t know, you would just… not be there anymore
            Isn’t it kind of scary to live forever?
            Yes… but dying is scary too
            We are lost in the predicament, and which is weightier.
            Are you crying?
            It’s okay… it’s not going to be for a long time probably.
            Well yeah, well… I just think it’s far away
            Okay, yeah, me too
            The light is gone save stars in the window, but they are mild and distant. The darkness encompassed the room, left the possibility for anything to exist in that intangible space.
            What do you think dad meant on the phone. Do you think mom is sick?
            No, he just said she had a cold, she’s not really sick
            Oh okay, who was he talking to?
            I don’t know, maybe the doctor’s office.
            And they said she was okay?
            Yeah, she has medicine, dad picked it up.
            I was a little bit worried about her
            Yeah, I think she’s fine though.
            A short pause enters the conversation, we digest the conversation, he says it first
            What if mom was really sick
            I don’t think she is.
            I know, but what if she got really sick?
            And silence slips into the conversation, into our thought processes. The possibility is unreal, it presents itself as an alien, it is impossible and amazing, it does not connect to everyday life. It is the other, real’s counterpart, and slowly, slowly the realization came. The thought processes synergized, and the gravity of what this might mean was overwhelming.
            It would be okay because she would go to heaven, and I exhale, I have solved the problem
            Yeah, and I can hear him sniffle. The thought has him crying again, harder, it is painful and logical with the world as I know it. Coco died, I will die, Mom will die. But no one knew quite what it was to die, because no one could tell us. We knew only that it was quite separate. And so we must simply believe. And I try to believe, but I am not quite sure what it is.
            But if I was the blue one, I’d freeze time, my grin invisible, but he could hear it. And he laughed, we laughed. And you’d just be stuck with the pink one.
            Shut up, I wouldn’t be the pink one!
            We laugh, Fine, fine.
            Did mom say you have a baseball game tomorrow?
            Yes, in the morning. Can I use your glove?
            Why, I ask, but I already know
            Because… you know why… Mom wrote my name in big letters all over it, it looks so stupid
            It really did look silly, I would have been embarrassed to wear that glove if I were him. She had this big black marker and wrote his name and phone number in big letters across one of the fingers, and again on the inside of the glove. So whoever was throwing to him saw all this silly writing with his name and some numbers, and it really did look silly.
            I let him sit there in the dark for a little while though. It was my glove after all. I didn’t really want him getting it all beat up or throwing it around or something. He probably wouldn’t though.
            Fine, I guess
            Thanks, I could tell he was smiling
            And the darkness to overwhelm the conversation, sleep to follow, rhythmically, the breathing in the room was grounding, he turned under his blankets and rustled his sheets. The sounds of the room, and the darkness just before sleep."

Appreciate any thoughts or opinions you guys have, I hope that my style leaves some room for you to find yourself in the character's perspective - perspective is something which really interests me.


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  3. perspective is good. the narrative workings of a young man's inner being reflecting on his past-outer, conversing with his external. The brothers towards the end are convincing relations. I like the absence of quotations, makes one stay active while reading. the use of megaman as a transition into a deeper realm of thought is good too. not sure if I would have him cry , or if so, I would draw it out for a moment to really capture that anxiety which is birthed from the thought of nonbeing- to really capture a young boys contemplation of death, maybe the narrator could explain more about his brother, his innocence perhaps, or how the older one feels obligated to always look out for the younger. this would also serve as a good move into the baseball glove. overall it left me curious to read more. Again, narration is good.

  4. The pacing of the conversation is so important in a scene like this, and I think you do a nice job by not letting the narration intrude. Letting the characters speak for themselves is key to getting the audience to empathize, or put themselves into the character's perspective, as you put it.
    So I would resist any impulse to explain, or overly narrate; the reader knows the younger brother is innocent (or has moments of greater innocence), and we know the older brother feels obligated to look out for the younger brother, we know this inherently, but you also show that when he lends him the baseball glove.
    I like the speed at which the boy goes from laughter to tears and back again. This is one of the aspects I find most true to reality. Thinking about death as a kid, and the emptiness of the thought of not existing, is something that creeps in, frightens deeply, and then is pushed away as quickly as possible.
    The conversation is very familiar, which helps with reader relate, but risks becoming tired, or dull. The color talk, about what you see vs. what I see, is almost too familiar, and may be unnecessary (though it may very well speak to some greater theme of the novel). I love the use of mega-man. It pulls the dialogue out of commonplace familiarity and makes it fun, and contemporary, and you use the reference to speak to the larger themes you're interested in, rather than simply as a pop-culture reference.
    i do wonder about your use of punctuation in some sentences and not in others. i'm fine with leaving it out, but you do include every question mark. But I guess it doesn't have to be an all or nothing thing.
    Great work! Looking forward to more!

  5. Ethan - it's something about perspective I'm trying to capture there. The transition of emotions isn't always rational, and especially for children, emotion is ruled by the moment. Appreciate the read, man. Always up for a session if you wanna come chill and write haha.

    Miles - definitely some things I'm considering, and I really appreciate the feedback. I'm at a place where I'm figuring out which themes are fitting where, some may come out, so I'm not totally considering this a final version.

    Definitely understand about the conversation getting dull... I think for it to be completely honest, though, it needs to have moments of slowness... I kind of equate it to breathing space on a canvas. And I'm a minimalist (hahh). But yeah, really appreciate the encouraging words. Looking forward to seeing some more of your work too.