The final phase begins! I’m re-reading “The Wife in Winter: Seduction of The Muse”, relentlessly editing each chapter. Each day starts with questions:
Have I conjured epiphany or revelation upon the page? Will my writing meet John Gardner’s Standard of “sustaining the vivid and continuous dream?” Are the themes and motifs enigmatic and engaging? Will my fledgling literary edifice be worth deconstructing? How much of a gap must be closed between my vision of the novel and the current level of technical execution? Will reading “Seduction of The Muse” be a captivating, empowering, and inspiring experience in these troubled times?Despite the complex challenges at hand and a profound fear of failure, cautious optimism prevails.
Today’s small literary victory involved heliotrope, the moonlit flowers of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town.” For decades, I’ve wondered what heliotrope looked like. To my delight and with gratitude to Google, I discovered that heliotrope can be blue and purple, thus dovetailing with the Laurel Valley (a.k.a. “Louis Vuitton”) High School official colors. HOORAY! I’ve knotted together the prosperous Long Island town of Laurel Valley, where much of my novel takes place, and Grover’s Corners New Hampshire!
The prosperous fictional suburb of “Laurel Valley” was born in the company of my treasured friend and muse, the late Doreen Davidson. We were attending a revival of “Angels in America” and had grabbed a quick dinner during intermission. Before the production resumed, I turned to Doreen and declared:
“I know where ‘The Wife in Winter’ takes place! The town is Laurel Valley!'”
A synthetic mind had slowly woven Lake Success, Locust Valley, and the leafy circlets granted to winners at the ancient Olympic Games. Voila! Such a realization only took over half a decade…I’d known my characters, their interrelated phantasmagorical stories and destinies, but this particular setting had remained unclear. To have used a real Long Island suburb would have curtailed my creative freedom and limited the imagination of the reader. Laurel Valley serves as my Grover’s Corners. Consequently, I’ve taken the one local institution that’s only mentioned on the fringes of “Our Town” (the local high school which Emily Webb and her husband to be George Gibbs attend) and placed it at the heart of my story. As Grover’s Corners denizen Mrs. Soames states during Act III:
“I remember Emily’s wedding. Wasn’t it a lovely wedding? And I remember her reading the class poem at Graduation Exercises. Emily was one of the brightest girls ever graduated from High School. I’ve heard Principal Wilkins say so time after time.”
Despite her considerable gifts and talents, Emily Webb marries young and dies in childbirth. Her “Everywoman” legacy haunts “Seduction of The Muse.” Will ambitious women writers, especially those struggling with an acute awareness of mortality, succeed in giving birth to their best literary selves? What form will their creative efforts take during the presidential campaign of 2008? What will be the fate of their teenage children? What will be the fate of America? Please join me on this unfolding journey of exploration…