Friday, October 28, 2011

The Art of Plugging Away - Part 2

I've discovered a few insights since I officially began writing the first draft to my dog crime saga: I've found additions to previous hobbies and broadened my scope.
First, let me give you a brief history on this novel.

My first ideas and sketches were in 6th grade. I drew a lot of my own books in those days. It took place in the 1980s (Why not? That's all I knew!). I called it 'Stacey's Story'. It was a direct rip-off of "Lady and the Tramp". As I grew older and became further entrenched in history, I kept going backwards (the 70s, 60s, until I decided that the War Years and its movies were my favorite time period, the 40s). Afterwards, I kept said title until it became 'Stacey:1943'. I still had humans, but could not negotiate dog years within human history. I even did research on World War II, and this messed me up.

Finally, well, eventually, I gave up. Typing the story became a treatment when I suffered from Writer's Block (thank God, I don't suffer often). I discarded everything. I just stowed it away, taking it out every now and again, looking at all my work in a forlorn manner. I didn't want to discard all that research. I felt, 'My G*d, all that time wasted!'
What would this story come to, I wondered? Would I even make it happen?
To reuse a cliche' - What a difference a few years make!

In March 2010, I used a neglected notebook. It appeared to be a business legal pad, navy blue, almost puffy cover.
Inklings about the dog story began to crop up again. Ideas would jump into my head, drop from the sky, anything new, I quickly jotted down. It's as if the story was fighting back, fighting to survive. It removed the ideas that bogged it down, held it from full potential.

Prohibition had been peaking my interest. I was so long a fan of 40s, 50s movies, but now the Silent Era was calling to me. I began watching comedians I wasn't familiar with: Harold  Lloyd, Charley Chase, the history of movie studios and films. I bought used books as references: about the different ethnic group emigrations to the U.S., about speakeasies.
Pre-Hayes Code films, 1930-1932, Hollywood at its most irreverent, its most scandalous take in movies. These black-and-white reels made jokes about sex and poked fun at subject matters I thought only came into being in the 60s!
I couldn't believe one early 1930s movie made a point about the heroine thinking and preparing for the fact that the hero would want to sleep with her! And when the hero told her good night and took to the couch, her reaction is timeless! Could these old-time movies really talk about such stuff that make up our regular, modern films?

I removed the human beings. I gave the dogs center-stage. They owned the book.
I took them from Disney half-clothed and made them stand upright, fully-attired, even wearing lingerie and undergarments! What was good for my epic fantasy cats should be good enough for my gangster dogs!

Finally, I set it in the early 30s, when the Great, Noble Experiment is losing its grip on the rest of the nation.
By doing so, I released the floodgates of possibilities: stories of immigration, the political, cultural and ethical ramifications of liquor and how banning it changed our socio-cultural landscape...

This is/are the novel(s) I write now.

1 comment:

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