11 August 2010

Future writing ideas

While Perfect Girl remains stalled (though I now have some new ideas to work off of, and that will lead somewhere once I actually work them), I am at a point where I have some new ideas floating around my head, that will not only give Sarah a new lease on life, but also start some new projects.

I've always held interest in current events, and I've considered myself an idealist. And I've always taken note of the fact that the current neoliberal/libertarian teabagging movement promises maximum freedom and minimum government intervention - but ends up taking more freedom away instead. There is a strong parallel to communism, which had promised a classless, equal society but ended up with even more of a class society instead. I'm not very enamored of either ideology, while I acknowledge how great each looks on paper.

That's just led me to a very rough idea of a storyline as follows:

The protagonist, in mid-20th Century in some nondescript country, is an idealist thinker who quickly rises up the ranks of the nascent communist revolution. Once the revolution succeeds and the Communist Party takes power, she becomes the key advisor to the head of state, and ends up crafting the key pillars of the Party and national ideology, in an effort to bring maximum equality and prosperity to the people. But when some of her ideas toward that end, including limited market reforms, get her branded a heretic by the Party, she eventually abandons her revolution, defects to the West, and becomes an outspoken and influential neoliberal thinker. She will now sing the praises of the free market, in an effort to maximize freedom and prosperity for the people. But eventually, she will be betrayed by her new neoliberal bosses for ideological impurity, just like from her old Communist bosses, and she will probably move to a third country where she can truly continue working for justice for the people while disassociating herself with ideologies.

At this time, it's a very rough idea. And I don't want to really work on this until I have Sarah's life story largely finished.

One thing I do know is that my new protagonist will have to be gay, if closeted. She will have to deal with her Communist bosses, who think homosexuality is an import from the decadent, permissive Western capitalists, as well as her later neoliberal bosses, who consider gays to be socialist scum who infringe on the people's religious freedoms. This will certainly deliver a huge additional boost to the sense of alienation she feels from both movements she had strongly identified herself with and devoted herself to.

My preliminary preference is to start the story in a fictional Eastern Bloc country, then move it to Reagan-era US; it will make the most sense, and research will be quite easy too. The key challenge, however, will be to concoct a plausible Eastern Bloc society and decide on its ethnicity and language. When rejected by the neoliberals, the protagonist may stay in the US but relocate to a saner state, or she may choose to relocate to Canada.

An alternate approach - especially if/when my next Seoul stint is well underway - will be to use the two Koreas as the setting; however, in that case, thanks to the Confucian misogyny making female leaders implausible, the protagonist will have to be male, to eventually identify as a gay man or a transwoman, and I'll have to portray the two Korean societies in ways that will be more understandable for the average Western reader. (At least I can simply use actual North Korean system and personalities in this case, rather than inventing a whole new country.) The timeframe can also be pushed a bit later; the protagonist can observe North Korea's 1990s famines, then arrive in South Korea around 2000 and help out with the conservative resurgence of 2007. Eventual ending may take within South Korea or in Western Europe or Canada; the US, which the protagonist should visit a few times, will be ruled out, with Korean-American McCarthyism being a key factor in the decision.

Let me see what I can make out of this. And hopefully the sense of idealism and dedication can be translated into Sarah's mindset as well - and her passengers will be all the better off for it. More importantly, the whole story arc for Sarah, not just Sarah's personality and work, will need to carry that mindset as well.

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