I finished reading Persuasion last night. There was some giggling, as well copious tears as I read Captain Wentworth’s desperate note to Anne at the very end. It’s only the best letter I’ve ever read in a novel and so well built up to that I cried like a baby and rolled around in bed afterwards, so damn satisfied, literarily speaking. I don’t cry while reading–I’ve done that exactly three times in my life–but I was so thrilled at the method Captain Wentworth chose and how he couldn’t take Anne not knowing how he felt and his words–yeah, so I cried.
It inspired me to write a scene between Eva and Brixton, about a month before the action starts, lazing around in the Public Garden, Brix gently pushing Eva’s buttons by bringing up their lack of a romantic relationship (his motivation) and Eva skirting around the topic, with Brix backing down, because he doesn’t ever tell Eva what to do or make her do something she really doesn’t want to–which can be good and bad.
The root of their story began with a tangled, dramatic love story–childhood friends, they have a child together though they’re not really involved in any sort of romantic relationship with each other (and if you think I’m saying something negative about modern relationships, then yes, you may be right), he falls for her, she trusts him implicitly…except that, despite being an otherwise eerily calm and controlled woman, Eva is terrified of making a leap into a serious relationship; she is unable to forget her dysfunctional upbringing; she is highly independent. In that version, Brix had cancer and he kept it a secret from Eva and all hell broke loose when she found out. That was it. I couldn’t write a story about cancer.
The soul swapping came in after I finished Time Traveler’s Wife. Somehow, a sort-of girlfriend-of-Brix’s got added in there.
But as I’m revising and adding and getting comments back on a first draft version of a few chapters, I’m wondering more and more if the soul swapping is necessary. I see it as a vehicle to propel and tell the realistic, human emotions rather than as a “ooh, let’s try something fantasy-ish”–hence the proliferation of flashbacks, because I want to trace Eva and Brix’s friendship and Eva’s family life. I scrawled out on the outline: “It’s about the moment when you decide to just take the leap into something you’re deathly afraid of, because it’s time or because it’s meant to be.”
So, yeah, after reading the non-gimmicky and sublime Persuasion, the emotions should be–have to be–enough to carry the story because they’re what’s important. So I’m kind of rethinking the fantasy element for a second. Of course, that would mean an even more massive rewrite, which is just exhausting to think of (and would screw with my rather inner urgency to ‘get the thing done.’ Funny how everyone says I basically have all the time in the world to write this, but I never feel that way). Especially since I restructured on the hard copy.
Maybe this is why I shouldn’t revise during that time of the month.