Analyzing Julius and a Discovery

by RS on March 30, 2010

As I wrote in Doubting Thomas I wondered whether I had a book in me or not, but after listing all the books that I’ve used for research and my rant about self-publishing, I’ve become motivated again, and I’m rethinking or, better yet, analyzing Julius. The premise will remain the same: a former power couple, Jake Wells and Corinne Sand quit their well-paying jobs to launch a Marxist political-literary magazine, based on the New Masses. which they name Julius (after Julius Rosenberg). The magazine’s scope centers on the Lower East Side’s fast gentrification and the issues that come with it.

This all takes place during Bush’s second term–a time when it was all about money, and anything reeking of socialism was considered evil (as it still is today thanks to those tea party imbeciles, but thats another story). The thread weaved throughout the story is what Marx wrote, “Hegel remarks somewhere that all great, historical facts and personages occur, as it were twice.  He has forgotten to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.” And that’s what Julius is all about. A quasi-tragic farcical story of idealists who think they can make a change, but find themselves battling complacency, bureaucracy, greed, personal agendas, but also self-doubt.

It’s a good story, if I do say so myself, but it’s difficult one to write. Why? As you may have seen by the bibliography, its taken a lot of research on topics that tie-in with Corinne’s (the MC and narrator) obsessions: The Spanish Civil War, The Hollywood Ten, Alvah Bessie, Marx, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, and the movies. I think I’ve been able to weave the history, but now the challenge is to delve into the contemporary issues (pre-Obama and Great Recession), tie those with the past, and create a tight story that makes sense. It’s this juncture that I find myself floundering. Why? Because the past and the concerns of that time–to me–make better reading and writing than modern day matters.

This discovery I’ve made about myself as a writer–a liberating one at that– is that I enjoy writing historical fiction. And it makes sense because I’m a firm believer that you can’t fully comprehend the concerns of the present without having a strong understanding of the past.

So with that breakthrough, I think  it’s time for some writing.

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