Ticket to Ride: Behind the Story, Part 1

It should be noted that the following is a work in progress and is subject to change. As I acquaint you, and reacquaint myself, with my motives and hopes for this, my little book about life and living, I will, invariably, experience a hiccup or two, perhaps lose my way, and then, hopefully, find the path again. It won’t always be a straightforward and clear-cut ride. And it will actually be a bit messy at times. But isn’t life that way?

Let me start with the title. The Tradewinds (the original name of my story about Morgan Blake), when combined with Just Another Day, (my story of Livy Tinsley), became Ticket to Ride. Apart from it being sort of “catchy,” given that it’s also the title of a Beatle’s song, the title has direct meaning because the two protagonists meet on a train. Being that popular music has been an important part of popular culture for decades it was important for me to flavor the book with sprinklings of it throughout. Musical references also help to contextualize situations and occurrences throughout the book and lend a soundtrack that I feel is as important to this type of book as it is for a film that has young characters inhabiting a particular period in time. We all have, or have had, songs that point to particular periods in our lives. These songs provoke certain emotions, good or bad, and help to articulate our experiences. For many, shared music is the common ground through which we can express how we feel with others and it also helps to add resonance and depth to otherwise mundane experiences.

The Tradewinds began as a short story. It was meant to be just a brief conversation between two young men and their youthful observations of life. From there it grew as I would, over the course of several years, go back to the original manuscript and add small flourishes and sometimes whole chapters. I fancied myself a painter returning time and again to a canvas that represented his life’s work. At some point I decided to put Morgan through a sort of hell that I hoped he would get through and become a man. As he asks his friend Miko in the third chapter, “When do you know you’re a man?” When indeed does any young man know when he has passed into manhood? It’s not easily defined nowadays so I guess, in a way, I wanted to create for the male reader a sense of the modern rites of passage. I must say that Morgan’s experiences are not required for manhood. But given the time period and the prevalence of drugs and promiscuous sex in the 70s, they seem likely. And while I know these things are not confined to the 70s experience, that decade was the first in which these things became most prevalent. Right or wrong, I wanted to put Morgan through the rounds and have him come out the other side a better man for having realized he’d made some poor decisions and embracing what he found to be good about himself. I’d like for male and female readers alike to learn from the Morgan’s mistakes, though I know many of us have to make them for ourselves.

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