So, as my story is coalescing more fully in my mind, I am starting to think ahead about what the story will really be about. Sometimes I'm very focused on thenplotmand the characters and it's not until I bang out the first draft that I start to analyze what the meaning is or could be. Sometimes I start toying with the deeper meanings earlier.
I don't write with the intention to have a "moral" or an incredibly philosophical comment on life come out of my story, but I think what makes a good novel good is that there is something said about life underneath the basic story. That is what will resonate with us, what will make us remember it more.
So what will my Oxford story be about?
I suppose what I'm interested in exploring is the idea of presumed love as a negative force. If love is something true, then it should be pursued in the least selfish terms possible. It ideally should purify us. We should become our best self under the influence of the object of our affection. Yet, so many people (especially young people) let what they think is love consume them. It devours them, they forget who they are or who they want to be. A positive thing, when applied incorrectly becomes a poison. Chasing an idealized relationship with an incompatible person is such a waste, such a trap people fall into.
That's a cynical thought, isn't it? I don't want to write an entirely cynical book, though. I think there is something about the fleeting beauty of being young and bright, with a world of potential ahead of you. Beauty is always more apparent when it is fleeting, of course- at least in retrospect. I think the story must be a somewhat realistic contrast of highs and lows. Sometimes those high points are positively euphoric, but it ebbs quite low in response. It should be a balance.
My main character, Ben, will have a classic source of tension, that aching desire to follow whatever it is you want from life, but getting caught up in the expectations others have of you.
I want a collage of experience from my characters. In some ways it will be a classic "dormitory" novel. The mixing personalities and backgrounds put into an academic pressure cooker. It breeds some of the best and worst moments of a person's life. But I want to go beyond that, I want to show what happens afterwards. I keep falling back on Brideshead Revisited, Waugh captures so well how the little incidents and the relationships you form can echo through the rest of your life as much as you try put it in the past.
Anyway, my semester is nearly done, so I'll be able to put some more time into this story over the next month.