Whiteout #3

Okay–some of you, maybe most of you, have had the opportunity to read “Whiteout” (if not, here’s the link to download a free copy at smashwords.com: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/291355). I hope you found it to be a well-written, strongly felt story of a special moment in the lives of Zach and Becca. (That’s what I hope–it’s for you to say whether or not I achieved some or all of that goal.)

I also hope the story was engaging enough to make you want to know more about Zach and Becca–the details of their romance and of their lives beyond the romance. Where did these two come from? How did they get together? What happened to them after the “Whiteout” night? The good news, if you have such a curiosity, is that this larger story already exists. “Whiteout” is a chapter from a 180-page fictional romance, and the romance in turn is but one relationship in a 725-page narrative of three years in Zach’s life.

Confused? Me too, and I wrote the stuff!

Let’s break it down. Imagine from your own life a moment of intense feeling in a special relationship. That “moment” might be a few seconds or minutes or hours, or maybe a day or two. A friend of mine wrote a poem of such a moment titled “Best Day.” That “best day” moment is what “Whiteout” is for Zach. Now expand the recall of that special relationship outward to include the whole relationship, the romance, but only the romance–the sum total of all the memorable moments and scenes and exchanges associated with that special relationship. This recall of a relationship is the 180-page romance from Zach’s life. Now expand the memory still further to include all the events and key relationships leading up to and surrounding and following that single romance, the factors contributing to and causing, impacting and impacted by, and resulting from that intense romance. This larger story constitutes the 725-page narrative of three years in Zach’s life. It’s like a set of those Russian nesting dolls (Wikipedia informs me that they are called matryoshka), each opened to reveal a smaller one, except here you’re starting with the smallest doll–the solid one, and the most intricately detailed–and building toward the largest. How does this tiny doll fit inside the next larger one? And that next larger one fit into a still larger one?

Before starting this Zachary Sandstrom saga, I was intrigued by the idea of viewing a romance set off by itself, feeling the intensity of a love unencumbered by anything from outside that love. What does love look like in isolation? What truths (or horrors) might one uncover in looking at only the love? Then, once one has plumbed the depths of the isolated romance, what does that love look like when one adds all the “stuff” going on around it, the other relationships–acquaintances, friendships, families, loves–and obligations and responsibilities and needs and hopes that lie outside the romance but invariably impact and shape that romance, and vice versa? What new truths and understandings are uncovered by adding the “real” world context to the “pure” world oblivion of the romance? This is the outward-building exploration of moving from “Whiteout” to the romance, and from the romance to the fuller narrative.

I mentioned that the romance and the larger narrative of Zach’s life already exist (in fact “Wyoming”–https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/287850–is the first section of that larger narrative). And both will one day be published–the romance first, then the narrative–though it may be awhile before that happens as I investigate the various options for publication and try to determine the one(s) that will reach the broadest audience.

But I realize as I write these words that further contextual spheres exist for Zach’s narrative–ever larger nesting dolls, if you will. What local, national, and global events were occurring at the time that impacted and helped define Zach’s life and this singular romance? In short, how are our lives, down to our loves, our passions, our most intimate and intense moments, impacted by our world, events beyond our direct experience or control but nonetheless shadowing and shaping those experiences? And then outward beyond that sphere–how is any moment in history, and the lives that in aggregate comprise that moment in history, shaped and defined by what came before, what comes after? This journey is kind of the butterfly effect in reverse–if a butterfly flexing its wings (“Whiteout”) somehow ripples outward to affect everything in the universe, how does that universe ripple inward to affect that butterfly, its fleeting movements and fragile life? A cynic might say: “That’s an easy question to answer–the butterfly gets crushed!” A few years ago, I would’ve been that cynic. But today I’m not so sure. I don’t think the butterfly gets crushed. In fact, there may be something about the butterfly that transcends and ultimately redefines the enveloping universe. Maybe.

Well, obviously I’ve not written either of these larger accounts (or any that may lie beyond those) as the prospect just now dawned on me. And, truth be told, I rather doubt I have the energy or the time (Tolstoy was a whole lot younger than I am when he tackled War and Peace) let alone the ability to embrace such a ponderous subject. But then, who knows what the future holds?

Enjoy “Whiteout” and look for more of its Russian nesting-doll “parents” in the future!

JA

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