Assignment 1: Act of Story Statement.
Eugenia tries to save herself from non-existence by immersing herself in a life of trying to save others.
Assignment 2: Antagonistic forces in the novel.
Sketch of antagonistic forces:
The antagonist in my novel is not a single individual. Antagonist conflict is best conceptualized as the struggle between Eugenia’s value system and the world as Eugenia experiences it.
Eugenia seeks to maintain, regain, or reinvent the romantic relationship with Sebastian. We learn very little about the original relationship and less about Sebastian via the letters written by Eugenia to Sebastian. We learn about Eugenia’s distressing perception of the world. We learn about Eugenia’s dedication to her friends, coworkers, and patients. We learn of Eugenia’s continued capacity for indignation to the actions of fellow human beings and to the subsequent response of authority figures and society. We learn of her approbation of her best friend’s efforts to right the wrongs in the world, particularly in healthcare.
Towards the novel’s end, another antagonistic force emerges: Eugenia’s best friend, Genevieve. Genevieve’s personal life evolves and Genevieve formalizes a fulfilling romantic relationship with Antonio. Initially, Eugenia ecstatically discloses this situation to Sebastian. Thereafter, Eugenia’s letters to Sebastian grow briefer, with less intense expressions of longing for Sebastian and less outrage with the external world. Finally, a new character, Eugenia’s sister, exposes the how and why of Eugenia’s letters and their subsequent cessation.
Assignment 3: Breakout title.
(Warrants revision and maybe a cohesive reintegration of the theme into the novel's entirety)
1) Letters from Eugenia
2) Imagining Sebastian
3) Please Send in the Clowns (Send in the Clowns is already taken by another novel)
4) The Musical Meanderings of a Woman in Love
5) When Will You Answer Me?
Assignment 4: Comparable novels in the epistolary style.
Healthcare based intrigues: Robin Cook's novels (ie, Fatal Cure).
Psychological evolution of character development: Celeste Ng's Everything I Never Told You.
Evolution of a relationship between characters through the lens of one narrator: Isabel Allende's Ines del alma mia (I am not writing an historical novel and I am not comparing myself to Isabel Allende. Clearly need to read some contemporary epistolary novels.)
Frances and Bernard, by Carlene Bauer. Similar in writing style. Storyline fairly dissimilar.
Mount Misery and House of God, by Samuel Shem: healthcare intrigues; far more graphic details of the healthcare incestuous culture; not epistolary style.
Une si longue lettre by Mariama Bâ: epistolary style. Reminds me of Lisa See's Snowflower and the Secret Fan and feels more like existential French literature.
Closest comparable except for healthcare intrigues: Lettres d'une Péruvienne by Françoise de Graffigny. 18th century!!! I need to change my genre!!! And need some constructive criticism other than from 15 supporting friends.
Eugenia is Genevieve's most ardent supporter in the struggle for justice and integrity in healthcare and in life in general until Genevieve branches out in her personal life and Eugenia seems to retreat, become an admiring bystander, and languish in her own pursuit of love.
Assignment 6: Elaboration of levels of conflict.
Inner conflict sketch: The inner conflict for Eugenia is trying to live in a world in which she feels constantly confronted by injustice, predominantly in her workplace. She struggles when she witnesses mistreatment of patients or hears about this from her best friend, Genevieve. She also feels conflicted when Genevieve divulges how she has dealt with an unjust situation because Eugenia wants Genevieve to succeed in life. One example is when Genevieve attends a job interview and stands up to the old boys’ network attitude of the interviewer. Genevieve deliberately sacrifices this potential job offer by confronting the interviewer with his hypocritical life choices. Eugenia challenges Genevieve for her behaviour during the interview and how self-sabotaging this has been for Genevieve’s career. Eugenia is then shocked by the intensity and brutality of Genevieve’s response to Eugenia and asks for Sebastian’s feedback, in what seems like a request to be consoled and to be vindicated for the way she leads her life.
The secondary conflict for Eugenia is living year by year in the absence of Sebastian. This conflict becomes more apparent once Eugenia’s best friend, Genevieve, progresses in her relationship with Antonio and they finally marry. Eugenia seems to stop pleading with Sebastian to join her when she acknowledges to Sebastian how disappointed she is that he did not attend Genevieve’s and Antonio’s wedding.
The tertiary conflict is Eugenia’s seeming recognition that she is too tired for being engaged in a conversation (via letter) with Sebastian. Counter to Eugenia’s previous assertions in the novel, she is not fighting anymore.
The setting of my novel is not a geographical location. The setting lies in the mind of Eugenia; her interactions with Genevieve and a couple of other friends and colleagues; her attachment to her rôle in healthcare; and primarily her allegiance to Sebastian and the life that she dreams to pursue with him. There are allusions to places, points of reference that are common to Eugenia and Sebastian, but these are never named in the novel.
The purpose of not identifying a specific physical location is to allow the reader to engage the imagination and reminisce about a similar connection in the reader’s life and via this stimulation of the reader’s memories, propel the reader to conjure an image that is emotionally relevant to the reader. Then the story becomes a personal journey for the reader. This promotes a universal interpretation rather than a culture specific or society specific significance. In the end, the themes transcend culture, continent, language, territory, and reflect the commonalities of intrigues across these false and human created boundaries.
Only in the epilogue is there a reference to an estuary that may identify a particular geographical, cultural, and social setting. This allusion is again left to the imagination and interpretation of the reader.