Thursday, February 08, 2007

Journal of a "Novel"-Entry 31

Mutt's Output Taking a Beating

Looking at the blog history I can see it's been over two months now since I have posted in this journal. Unfortunately, right now I am having trouble keeping pace with not only the journal but with working on the novel itself at the level I hoped, but it's no surprise, and to some extent I expected to be working slowly right now. This is due to a series of rapid-fire changes of great magnitude in my personal life, including the departure from one full-time job, the initiation of another in another state, and the process of searching for a home. Later on, God willing, my family and I will have purchased said home and will be enduring the long and painful moving process, from New Jersey into Pennsylvania. All this adds up to a serious hiatus in any kind of steady effort on the novel I am attempting to write, and my main fear is losing momentum or not being able to recover my pace after all of these major life changes have taken place and are in the past. I am attempting to revisit the novel from time to time, either to work on the writing a little bit here and there or review portions that I have already written. Right now, I am working on the third chapter of the novel, which I originally thought was only part of the way completed in draft. But as I will explain below, I have been considering some structural changes that may make this chapter a shorter one, which means I may be able to get Chapter 3 done sooner and be able to move on to a fourth chapter.

Chapter 3 Almost Complete?

I began writing Chapter 3 in early Deceember of the immediate past year. I did manage to get a handful of 'scenes' completed before my progress hit a snag, or a series of snags, mentioned above. Somewhere I may have mentioned an early tentative title for the chapter, but I think it has changed since then, and I can now reveal with relative certainty, at least for the moment, that the chapter's title is "A Secret Revealed, Letter from Texas". My early plan for the chapter was to fit in many major sequences that carried on the storyline on several fronts. But as I worked on the first few scenes, it started to dawn on me that I was possibly trying to cram too much into one chapter and that I might need to break up what I had originally envisioned for chapter 3 into Chapters 3 and 4. The downside to that approach is that because there is a lot I want to write about in these chapters, enough to divide them into two, the story will remain fixed around the first half of the 1920s for two more chapters before moving ahead in time to 1927 or so, probably in Chapter 5. My concern is that I want to make my way eventually through not only the rest of the 1920s, but also the 1930s and early 40s before the novel is done, and I don't want to take too much time getting there. Also I don't want the story to seem 'bunched up' in the 20s to begin with, only to give the appearance of impatience later on by rushing through the subsequent years more rapidly. Nonetheless, I do feel that there are important scenes and ideas that I want to flesh out at this stage that will require more than one chapter. Hence the decision to split Chapter 3 into Chapters 3 and 4. I don't know if any of this makes sense to anyone else, but it does to me.

Hints on Chapter 3 and Even More Nebulous Hints on Chapter 4

What will happen in Chapters 3 and 4? I can give a better picture of Chapter 3 right now, obviously, but I don't want to give too much away. And Chapter 4 is sort of loosely forming in my mind but would be subject to a lot of changes as I begin writing it later on. Having said all that, here are some hints on what will go down in the story. In Chapter 3 we are brought forward to November 1924, immediately after the presidential election and also the gubernatorial election in Indiana. In a frightening development, the Ku Klux Klan's hand-picked candidate, Edward Jackson, has won the governor's seat. The Klan is at the height of its power in Indiana and many other places. Walter Brogan feels increased internal pressure to do something or tell someone about his personal encounter with the Klan on his wedding night as revealed in Chapter 1. Then an instrusion at his workplace of a more subtle nature compels him into revealing his secret for the first time, but to a party the reader might not necessarily expect. A new character is introduced here. Meanwhile, the Heinricks family is dealing with the startling revelation that their son/brother Peter has taken himself off the career path his father has envisioned and is pursuing a risky career opportunity in the Texas oil fields. This is the area of Texas that later on will become what was known as 'The Black Giant".

In Chapter 4, Walter Brogan, having confided his story to a trusted party, begins to contemplate cources of action. Greta Brogan adjusts more to life back under her parents' roof and will have a run-in with her old suitor turned lawyer, Myron Devreaux, who is trying to position himself for a grab for political power at a young age. Finally, we will see Walter Brogan consult his father-in-law for advice on the whole Klan matter, and the counsel he receives will be something of a surprise to him and, perhaps, to the reader.

All will be revealed as the story progresses - unfortunately, that progress will probably continue to be hampered by the instrusions of 'real life' - but I am determined to keep the novel alive and moving forward, however slowly. Stay tuned!

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