Sunday, September 14, 2008

Story Idea #3

I'm getting a bit personal with this one. First I'm not sure if this idea would be a long story or a novel. Well actually I'm not sure if it would be novel or a biography. Embarrassingly I can't think of any examples off the top of my head, but have you ever read a book, written in the first person (usually), where the title character has the same name as the author? So whether advertised or not as biography you read it as such; it feels like non-fiction. And then clearly fictitious events occur, making your head swim? Anyway, with this idea I haven't decided if I would write about my actual life, or a more interesting version of it.

Here's the prologue, and this did actually happen, as far as you know anyway. My parents separated when I was four. My mom and I moved around a lot and ended up in Manchester, Connecticut, when I was in the 6th grade. Incidentally, that was the 10th house I had lived in and the 7th school I had attended. One day after school a kid in my grade cranked up his boom box and I heard:

da da dada dum dadadum dadadum dadadum dadadum dadadum dadadum
da da dada dum dadadum dadadum dadadum dadadum dadadum dadadum
(don't worry I can never figure out what tune someone means when they do that either)

You need coolin, baby, Im not foolin,
I'm gonna send you back to schoolin,
Way down inside honey you need it,
I'm gonna give you my love,
I'm gonna give you my love.

Wanna whole lotta love? ...

I instantly thought of my father, something I didn't normally do. Since he had moved out I think I had only seen him three times in the previous seven years. The first was when my mother had to sign the commitment papers because he had fried his brain to the point he couldn't take care of himself. I actually visited him in the mental hospital, but because no one told me that's the kind of hospital it was, I didn't find this out until years later. The second time, when I was in third grade, he came by with the divorce papers for my mother to sign. The third time was when I was in fourth grade. He had heard somehow that my mother's job at Pratt & Whitney had been transferred to Florida and we were moving. He drove down with a friend from upstate New York to say goodbye, which struck me as rather odd and pointless since I saw him so rarely anyway.

While hearing this song I had a vivid picture of my father sitting at the kitchen table teaching me how to de-seed pot in the top of a Monopoly box; me being four years old, this was a contributing factor to my parents splitting up to be sure.

A year or so later I started to discover Led Zeppelin for myself (I may do a separate blog later about music and other discoveries in junior high school--hell I just wrote half of it and decided it was too much of a tangent and chopped it out). In 9th grade he came to town and stayed with my aunt for a few days and I saw him again. We talked about music and I told him Led Zeppelin and The Doors were my favorite bands. He told me that Zeppelin was his and "Whole Lotta Love" was his favorite song. CLICK. Wow, I now jumped back to that day in 6th grade and I realized why hearing that song made me think of him.

My father died a few years after that. From that point forward, whenever I heard "Whole Lotta Love," I would think of him. Since he would be in my thoughts, and I would sort of feel a connection to him, I started half thinking that when the song was on, he could see me. And that gave me an idea for a book...

At first there is nothing, so sounds, no sights, no feelings, just void. Then he hears his favorite song, and he sees his son, 14 years old, in a car with the stereo on talking to the driver about the party they are headed to. He watches until the song ends and then everything goes black. An unknown amount of time later he hears the song again. This time he sees his son in his room trying, rather badly, to play the drums along to the song. The song ends and everything goes black.

You get the idea. He gets to watch his son's life in snapshots of up to five minutes and thirty three seconds.

I've had this idea for years, but writing it down now for the first time, three things occur to me.

1. The way I've laid it out here, it would have to be a short story. A choppy novel in short segments like that would drive the reader insane.

2. This could make an interesting audio book, assuming the listener could handle hearing "Whole Lotta Love," in the background a hundred times in a row.

3. It seems rather self-important of me to assume that he has nothing but void except for the times he can see me. Perhaps I'll have to invent an after-life he is hanging out in when every now and then he gets a sound-tracked vision in his head. I have no ideas about that afterlife, but if I could come up with one, then perhaps this could be a novel with two story lines intertwined throughout. A very ambitious thought that I don't really think I would be able to pull off.

Coincidentally, my next story idea is in fact a biographish novel with two story lines intertwined, and this is the book I really want to write. I just need to get in a lot of practice between now and then.

You may have noticed the new blog listed on the right hand side of this page with the unlikely title of The Spoons That Are My Ears! This is the blog of Rhys Hughes, a Welsh writer and fan of Phil Farmer I recently discovered. I previously said that I don't like to read stories more than a few thousand words long on the computer screen, but for the past few days I have been reading the short stories he has online. If I keep this up I may have to add a new category to my "What I'm Reading" updates. His stories are very different than most of what I read, although "Lunarhampton" did strike me after a while as reminiscent of Stanislaw Lem.

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