I did finish Appassionata, my complex story about Alberobello in Puglia, Italy, set to various classical pieces for solo piano. Once I had my back stories for the three major characters, my story unraveled easily and went in some surprising directions I myself could not have predicted two weeks ago. In the meanwhile much of the music I used blended well either as accompaniment to the narrative or as crucial metaphor.I used a Chopin Nocturne, Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in G minor and all three movements of Beethoven’s Appassionata for the story. Two Schumann pieces from his Carnaval also have a brief but important cameo role.
A tidbit for my Turkish friends. The grand old Istanbul standard Uskudara Gideriken, makes an appearance in the story in a passage that reveals the back stories of two characters..
I also finished my writing lectures, devoured them would be more exact. I found most of the teacher’s advice already familiar, especially his discussions about the process of writing, narrative perspective, how a plot unfolds, and the usual structure of a plot. I had discovered all this for myself simply by doing it, without being taught. He did give names to certain self discoveries that I didn’t know had names.
One was denouement. I knew that every story has to end unwinding in some way after a climax. Two years ago I wrote a story entitled Nash about the shared taxi’s of 1960’s Istanbul. The story ended in Pebble Beach, California with a climax, but no denouement. Three readers I sent the story to, all commented that it ended abruptly. They couldn’t put their fingers on why. I did. I went back and added several hundred extra words to let the story exhale a bit after the revelation of its climax. Now I know the proper word for it.
The teacher also left me with two concepts I knew but didn’t accept . One was the almost axiomatic fact that the first draft of any story is always crap. This is true whether you’re a novice writer or a seasoned success. It is the painstaking revision process that makes or breaks a story. Still, completing that first draft, with a proper beginning, middle and end is essential. Tedious as they are, revisions are impossible if the draft is not finished.
The other concept was that of research, also essential to any fictional story. The teacher’s advice on how to research and how much to include in a story was probably the best pearl I got out of the lectures. I will expound on this further in a future blog.
In the meanwhile Mim, my editor, has returned her revisions on ten stories so far, and only one did not pass muster with her, the one about Buyukada. I already know how I’ll fix it. Mim’s presence in the project has injected massive creative energy into my writing, my productivity now at a peak.
We are on track so far for an autumn publication.