I've always fancied the idea of writing a novel. Many readers, at one time or another, get this tickle -- just as watching a movie lends itself to wanting to be an actor. What kind of novel shall I write? That is a great question -- and prompts this primordial type of hopeful feeling in me; of potential being manifested and worlds yet unimagined being born.
I like interesting. And while my life is enhanced by finding interest in just about everything I come across, it means my threshold for holding my interest is low, which means needing to work to ensure optimizing just how interesting I can make it. Subjective as it is, the best part of "interesting" is that seeing as how I'm in the middle of becoming an physician, I have relatively little pressure to move expediently nor is there any reason to write a novel other than for the pleasure in the pursuit of creating something that I can take pride in. Simple as that.
On an ongoing basis, I plan on developing the novel here on this blog. The goal today is to develop a summary sentence describing the novel. From there, the sentence is expanded to a paragraph, and from there the characters and story line will be fleshed out. Using design principles to build a story makes sense. Even with short stories, I've written myself into corners that were difficult to escape, and often unnecessary had proper planning been managed from the start.
So here we go:
_______________ is the first offering from JLP, and is a thought provoking and moving novel that proves that ties to ones past can be more difficult to escape than it might seem; it is set in various times and settings, including the wild west as it played out in the "Shanghai Tunnesl" of Portland, Oregon and in the Coastal Native Americans who find themselves in the middle of the biggest natural disaster in the Pacific NorthWest in the post-ice age and in the old folks home in the city of Netanya, Israel that suffers through a suicide bombing in the early 21st century and the hospital staff who treat the bomber who survived.
A theme I wish to explore will be made obvious by having this verse as an opening epigraph:
Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear [the guilty]; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth [generation].
Assuming I use these 3 settings, which I will already find superbly intriguing and dripping with mystique and potential, the furthest behind in history will be the Coastal Native Americans who are making their way up the Colombia River when the earthquake which triggered the "Bridge of the Gods" in the Bonneville Slide, which occurred between 1060 and 1280, and actually damned the river for a unknown period of time. The next setting will be in the rough days of early Portland Oregon, when shipping from the Far East prompted a horrible term known as being "shanghai'd," meaning that a young man who, perhaps had too much drink, or perhaps too much opium, or was beat up -- ends up on a trading ship to China as an unwitting member of the crew. There were (are) some tunnels beneath the streets that dead end into the western shore of the Willamette River as it passes by Portland to join with the mighty Columbia as it marches to the Pacific. One of my favorite bars in Portland (circa 2001) was actually called the Shanghai Tunnel, and was in one of these spaces under the street and building. The next time would be March 27th, 2002, in what is referred to as the Passover Bombing in Netanya, Israel, a pleasant seaside town 20 kilometers or so north of Tel Aviv. I am inclined to make the main character a young American physician from Oregon who is training and in residency and during a global health medical training trip ends up treating the "suicide" bomber who was not wholly successful with the suicide part, and all the ensuing hilarity that can be had from such a pleasant position.
What do I want to say through writing this? Hmm. I do harbor this opinion that all created pieces of writing exist as propaganda serving the worldview of the author. I like my worldview, and I like to think that my personal creed is built to serve others as much as it serves myself -- and at times, more-so. I want to communicate this. And as much as I have principles that I stand on to live my life, I want this novel to be in large part a worthwhile piece of art that performs well as entertainment.
All of this literature stuff especially the subtle connections that English students (I did get a minor in English with my Bachelor of Science degree, and while I enjoyed the writing classes immensely, at times the literature classes were worth some chuckles when realizing the thread-bare arguments students, instructors and textbooks would make when arguing for exactly what a particular author was meaning to say or express. I'm reminded of Ray Bradbury (who I spent a semester researching and crafting a dissertation on what his writing meant not only to the world of literature but in shaping public opinion concerning technology and the dynamics between progressive and luddite perspectives. He once walked out on a lecture where his work Fahrenheit 451 demanded to be seen through a lense not about the effect of mass media on the populace but about censorship. As alluded to earlier, writing a novel is like giving birth to a creation, and just like human babies, they grow up and take on a life of their own -- and in light of this, I could argue that Mr. Bradbury had birthed this seminal work of fiction and had become something beyond what even he could hope for his creation's future. kind of like having a kid whom the dad wants to be a baseball player and the kid goes on not only to dislike baseball but to eschew team sports altogether and becomes a successful skateboarder.) On another parenthetical note, I just took some time to look for the Bradbury paper I wrote in the last year of undergrad and I couldn't find it. I think a lot of that stuff I wrote from then is gone forever as I had pulled the hard drive from the laptop that I used but eventually crashed in hopes of pulling data off of it, but I probably don't have it anymore. Kind of a bummer.) such as myself come up with is just the brains desperate attempt to recognize patterns, as it seems wont to do.
Oh to have such problems as having a novel being discussed in university classrooms.
Since this is doubling as a blog post and my first effort to bring a novel to life, I'm going to paste helpful links to each timeline so I can start the actual research of how to construct each world.
The oldest timeline will probably be set on the Colombia River where a big landslide occurs and damns the river for easily decades. I was also thinking of pushing the timeline further back in history and using a certain event that I remember learning about in a geology class. At the end of the last ice-age, there remained a humongous lake in the western part of what is now the U.S. When this lake drained westward it was what we call the Missoula Flood. There is a great PBS show about how this was discovered and the weird ground formations that spurred research into just what went down when the flooding happened. One of these events I'll use, but, as I'm also contemplating using Oregon as a geographical tie in and as one of the connections between these people spread apart by thousands of years.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7iC1fBREPI (pans the bridge from the Oregon side, short)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arQ0RY-jwVI (kite-boarding contest which clearly shows the remnants of the landslide from the Washington side)
http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&file_id=8018 (Detailed story of Indian lore surrounding the events of the bridge's formation, destruction and Mt. St. Helens as the birth of the youngest mountain)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mIszJv_Qow (Brief Oregon geology Hx video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzxtb4bJObA (Video showing the rapids that used to be on the river before the damns)
http://www.oregonpioneers.com/tribe.htm (Blurb on Coastal Tribes)
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/earth/megafloods-of-the-ice-age.html (Worth watching for general edification no matter who you are or what you're interested in)
http://hugefloods.com/LakeMissoula.html (Well done website, if not a little outdated, about the Missoula floods)
http://www.shanghaitunnels.info/ (Tours of modern day Shanghai Tunnels)
http://www.legendsofamerica.com/or-shanghai.html (Blurb about Shanghai Tunnels)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THJNPIGT6xc (Shanghai tunnel video -- 20min)
http://lostoregon.org/category/portland-history/ (Less about Shanghai but awesome blog about PDX Hx)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passover_massacre (Suicide bombing in Netanya by Hamas in 2002)
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/mar/28/israel1 (Passover Massacre)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gkib03PpARA (Video from first responder POV in Passover Massacre)