Perceval began life as a short story. I finished page one hundred and realized that I was writing a novel. I would need to research conductors and conducting. I knew, from my background in music, that this research would take a long time and be difficult. What could Evan be instead of a conductor that would be easier to research?
Auto mechanic came to mind. Lots of auto mechanics in the world. Most people own cars and have had experience with at least one auto mechanic. I could probably find several auto mechanics within a mile of my home. They’d probably be flattered, too, that a novelist wanted to observe their work and learn about their lives.
The night after I made that decision, I dreamed of Evan, my main character auto mechanic, dressed in white tie and tails, glowering at me. Suddenly his face zoomed up close to mine in the dream and I woke. He had said nothing. This same dream occurred with increasing frequency over the next six nights until I was getting little sleep. Finally, I was afraid to go to sleep.
OK, OK. What was the dream telling me? Evan wasn’t dressed in the greasy overalls of an auto mechanic but as a conductor. Although he said nothing, his expression conveyed anger — at me, hence the his-face-in-my-face move. He’d initially appeared to me as a conductor (see October 6, 2007 post “Who is That Guy or Where do you get your ideas?”) and had announced more than once in the story so far that he was a conductor. In the interests of being able to sleep, I gave in. Evan was a conductor. I would do the research on conductors and conducting. The next night, no dream.
First insight into conductors: They know who they are and what they want and can be incredibly stubborn about it. (Is this true? Would I be able to verify this? Time would tell.)
At this point, I wished desperately that at least one of the other music students I’d known in college had gone on to become a conductor, someone I might be able to call a “conductor buddy” and use as a resource. No such luck — none of them had pursued conducting. Conductors are very, very busy people and many of them travel for months at a time. So, as far as interviewing conductors was concerned, I wanted to make certain what when I requested an interview, I had a compelling reason for it. For example, a specific question that I knew a specific conductor could answer. I wanted to make friends of conductors, interest them in my writing, not annoy them by inadvertently wasting their time.
To be continued….