Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The story of "Story"

Here is "Story" or what I think is the first half or 2/3rds of it.

The reader/viewer of “Story” – a short fiction told in text and photos – should crumple in a heap of pain and joy at the conclusion of the tale. Since I’m not good enough to get that sort of reaction, I’ll be satisfied if she/he comes away feeling that nothing taken on faith, nothing arrived at through the customary modes of thinking, the intellectualizing of experience, fully explains the heartache, puzzlement and ultimate acceptance of life that’s felt as a result of having read this. I may not be good enough to get that reaction either, but that’s the goal. This is being told with photographs as well as text in order to augment the story, to amplify the effect, to pile on the impact. The photos will not be necessary to comprehend the essential thread of the story, but they won’t hurt. My hope is they’ll be the dessert after a satisfying meal.

Hard to say what my model for this is. It’s meant to be the kind of story that, say, Brecht or Borges might write. That’s the basic narrative. There’s also the kind of popular novel told through photographs, the “photo-comic” novella that’s become popular, I believe, among Hispanic readers. I was also inspired by a young woman I know (a classmate in an acting class) – by only her looks and her name, since her life story in no way resembles that of the young woman at the heart of “Story.” This woman’s face came to me, unbidden, as part of the core. I knew that her parents were from El Salvador though she was born in the U.S. I’m surprised at the number of elements that worked their way into this story faster than I was aware of them, on an instant – the movie “Volver,” for instance; the movie “Spanglish,” about a Hispanic domestic in the home of a couple who have serious problems (wife is cheating on husband, husband is falling for the domestic, etc., etc.). Also entering into this are my immediate surroundings in Palo Alto / Stanford, including the lemon tree in the backyard of my landlord and the well-done landscaping all around us. And to be in this part of California is to be surrounded by the Hispanic influence, in the names of towns and streets as well as the many workers out there who keep it all going. Finally, one of my classmates in the New Media Writing course -- see her comment -- offered me a song by PJ Harvey ("The Garden") that in its mood and some of its images fits nicely with my story. Don't know yet how I'll use it, but I may.

I’m seeing this project as about 10 (roughly 8-12) web pages, with text plus 2 or 3 photos per page. … The text will appear as large captions.
I’m seeing a total, therefore, of anywhere from 15 to 30 photos.
The photos I will take myself with my own digital camera, but I may borrow my wife’s camera. The photos need to be taken outdoors (most of them) – in our backyard, in some areas of the campus, but also indoors, and I’m not sure where that can be. The shots need to be of my chief actress, Karmen, but also of other actors: e.g., I’ll need someone to play Fiona, Sylvia, Raimundo for the dining-room table scenes; I’ll need someone to play Emmanuele for the garden scenes. And what about Karmen’s child, Pablo? ... Given that I don’t have many actors, I may use only a dozen or 15 photos – showing only the more important scenes.

a) Finish writing the story, which means the second half of the story. I could probably leave the first half alone, although I’ll probably want to tweak some details.
b) Recruit at least 4 other actors for the photos (besides Karmen), and set up a shoot that is NOT on a weekend, but which occurs before March 12. So must start shooting this week (during the week) and finish next week (during the week).
c) Must download the photos to computer and then assemble the pages. (need tech help there)
d) Upload the pages to the Web. Place links on the blog or wherever.

1 comment:

Lauren said...

1) Maybe try running it through Comic Life, after all. You might be able to get a blurrier, dreamier look to match the dreamy quality of your story.

2) This is not really a suggestion or anything, but have you ever heard the song "The Garden" by PJ Harvey? As far as I can tell, it is sort of the musical version of your story. It has the same dreamy sort of feeling, and even takes place in a garden.