Monday, April 19, 2010

The Spice Guild Navigators of Dune & Folding Space

When the main character, Sean, took over my novel in progress, Fireworks: Interference Equation, and created a chapter I had not intended, I discovered how novelists are like the Spice Guild Navigators of Dune. 
We fold Space, thereby altering time. Perhaps the spice Melange could be compared to our need for story and metaphor, our addiciton to playing with words.
However, it was only after I stood back two days later and examined the runaway Chapter 30, that I realized Sean, a splinter of my imagination, folded space.
I traced four real life events which happened over a span of 15 years juxtaposed and compressed into this brief scene lasting only 692 words. In fact, through Sean, I had folded both space and time and they combined experiences emerged in the scenes like the vivid three-dimensional scene which pops upp in a pop-up book.  These experienced had been pulled from their original places within a flattened plane of linear time to create a more well-rounded and complex scenario.

In my view, our characters are splintered off Jungian archetypes, who have something to teach us or to release. As an unpredictable quantum physicist, Sean has more leeway to act out things I'd never persoanlly dare or consider.
And when a book is rattling along at a speed we can no longer harness, only hold on and steer the best we can, a character can disrupt a timeline, leave other characters sitting in the dark, because of what needs to be brought to light to create a more complex and well-rounded story.  
And while, this act of Sean writing the chapter is totally screwing with my head, and I’ll have to restructure a confrontation which took months and chapters to put into place, it's proven to me how powerful and strangely logical the suboncscious can be.
The runaway chapter took me no time to write. It's filled with the metaphors I often struggle to pull from the ether. 
And the fact that the chapter drew upon, four different real life events which took place over a span of fiftteen or more years still amazes me. 
The first was a mempory of driving by a cemetery in a freak snowstorm around Valentine's Day, a second even in 2004 or 2005 when I had a rather heated discussion with Wil Martin, lead singer of the band, Earshot. We were discussing if we gain the same satisfaction from what we create whether we have an audience or not. The third the was another freak winter storm we had this past February and the fourth, related to stumbling on the video, Misunderstood, on You Tube by accident.
Of all the experiences over the course of my life, this chapter wanted to "enfold" those four events to tell the story and to reveal more about the character.  Odd.
John Fowles, author of The Magus, The French Lieutenant's Woman and The Collector, in his March 16, 1975 journal entry, addresses the way novelists have an inadequacy in time perception. He thinks fiction writers look at past and future events in the present tense, and often turn to metaphor and hypothesis to view both time and events.
"I think the only way to historianize the personal past is through fiction: that is, by treating one's past self as a fictional situation as a hypothesis,"  he wrote. "Others like myself (all novelists, probably) see their pasts in highly metaphorical terms.  They are primary ore, counters in the game, mere raw commodities before processing and refinement and manufacture."
 So now as Fireworks, Interference Equation stands at 30 chapters and 57,000 words, I feel as if I'm digging into my own personal past to "mine" some of the philosphical, psychological and even spiritual issues buried there. Things I don't know or won't admit on a conscius level.
By letting Sean take the lead, I negate the censor, the editor in my brain who would stop me from airing controversial issues or concepts which would make me look  like a bad person, or someone out of control, someone I might not even like.
But by airing these asepcts in my fiction, I not only tell a more complex story complete with human fraility and faults, but also bring things to light various aspects of my psyche so I can look at them without fear or judgement in a more objective rather than subjective manner. 
I still believe that writing a novel is the best therapy a person can undergo.  Once the story gathers momentum, we can barely slow it down from going further and further into the far reaches of our psyche to draw up new material.  Granted by the time it reaches the page it's so altered: by metaphor, by fitting the events into our story, by many factors that it make it unrecognizable from the actual event.
But still, we as novelests do something only theorized in quantum physics such as wormholes... or only managed by beings such as the Spice Guild Navigators... a remakable feat which constantly surprises me - and that perhaps isa  the spice, Melange, I'm addicted to.

1 comment:

  1. So cool... and I love how you incorporated this with Dune, one of my favorite scifi universes! Awesome!


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