I’ve been chronicling my project with my wife on this blog. I’m going to write a sonnet series about the creation of California. I’m using the dual stories of William Mulholland and John Muir to tell the story of water in California, what really made it what it is. Ann’s a visual artist, so she’s going to do the graphic art work for it.
Muir’s and Mulholland’s stories are going to be told from the point of view of Harrison, my character from my short story collection Let Us All Pray Now to Our Own Strange Gods. Every morning, Ann and I go for a long walk or drive to talk about the creative work we’re going to do that day. Ann’s great. She’s a visual artist, but she can always open up ideas for me. I hope I do the same for her.
This week, we’ve been talking about the structure of Harrison’s story. (By the way, I posted the first two sonnets a few weeks ago if you’re interested in those).
Harrison’s back story is that his emotionally unstable son, Stanley, has attacked another boy for being disrespectful to a girl he’s in obsessed with. Stanley has been rejected by the girl and that has only increased his obsession dangerously.
Each of the stories are going to parallel the first part of the Bible: the Garden of Eden, the Great Flood, and the Exodus.
In the Garden of Eden section, Harrison takes his son with him as he travels through the natural parts of California, trying to heal his son through nature. The problem is that the child is obsessed with the girl. The Garden of Eden story ends with exile. This section ends with Stanley hiking away into the forest in the middle of the night while Harrison is asleep so he can get within cell range and call the girl.
In the Great Flood section, Harrison finds Stanley camped by a stream bed the next day just as a rainstorm begins. He takes Stanley up to higher ground and has him watch as the stream fills with water that would have killed him. Stanley’s anger dissipates and changes into remorse. The Great Flood story ends with a promise. Here Stanley promises that he will never leave his father like that again.
In the Exodus section, Harrison and Stanley again go around California finally ending way back in the woods. Stanley’s obsession with his girl grows and he ditches his promise, but this time steals Harrison’s truck leaving Harrison stranded. Harrison has to make his exodus out of the woods searching for his son.
That’s the rough outline for the story. Now all I need to do is location scout. Each poem needs to wrap itself around a magic moment or place. They need to involve water in some way. So do you know any wet California locations? Let me know. They are few and far between!