Commentary 14: Fourteen Rivers Fourteen Floods

As was hinted at previously, sometimes my muse gives me unlikely inspiration during the writing process. The ability of the narrator’s father to see him wasn’t in the original plan, but for some reason I kept adding little scenes mentioning this. I didn’t really know why at the time, but since it was just a rough draft a ran with it. Suddenly it made sense that if his Dad could see him it meant he could travel outside of his own lifetime, and thus after failing at stopping the death, the marriage, and the first meeting he could go all the way back and try to stop Nelson’s birth.

Other tidbits:

  • In my initial outline, the revelation that he had been the one to facilitate his sister getting together with Nelson was supposed to be the “big reveal” at the end of the story. Seemed good on paper at the time, but it would be extremely anticlimactic if our whole tale just stopped here.
  • The tan van is the same tan van that was seen driving away from the bowling alley shortly after the encounter with the old man. Keep in mind that the bowling alley is on the west coast (and in the year 2002), while the wedding is on the east coast (and in the year 2000).
  • “Hidden messages in good time travel stories” was originally a blatant bit of foreshadowing to the old, deleted ending to the book. I left it in after the ending changed, making it now a cross between a subtle hint and a throwaway line.
  • The mom quotes a lyric. It must be genetic…
  • If Paul outlives Ringo, my credibility will be shot and the entire story will have to be classified as fiction.
  • When I was first learning to drive, the second time I ever got behind the wheel my Dad asked me to drive to my grandparents’ house. I had no idea how to get there. He couldn’t believe it since I had been there so many times, so he made me drive around aimlessly for an hour before finally letting me off the hook and giving me directions.
  • Using the cousin as a red herring was a late addition after I decided the narrator identified his younger father a little too easily.
  • In one of the more subtle musical allusions, the gaggle of ladies doing the drive-by is inspired by “Take It Easy” (written by Jackson Browne, but popularized by the Eagles). Specifically, “It’s a girl my lord in a flat-bed Ford slowing down to take a look at me.”
  • The “Double my Dating” line is a nod to the company my friend BoRyan works for.
  • The young version of the father is the only character in the book who was intentionally modeled after a real person. He’s based on a guy named Ben Wood I went to college in Syracuse with, who often stated that his life’s philosophy was “never lose your stride.” I kept that phrase in mind whenever the younger Dad spoke.
  • Another inspiration for the father/son interactions is Back To The Future. There’s a little bit of a Marty & George dynamic going on, although Local Boy is a little more suave than George was.
  • October 19 is my parents’ anniversary in real life, hence the little joke about not knowing anything important happening on that date.
  • You can tell I still had work on the brain with the out of context “free nights and weekends” line. But it flows well and still jumps out at you a bit, which is why I like it.
  • AWAB is actually something my friend Danielle in college used to always say. So if you take issue with that line, keep in mind that it was taught to me by a girl.
  • There are 43 known musical references in this chapter.

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