Monday, April 18, 2005

"Taylor House" Bonus: Author's Journal Entry

I was mentally working through some motivation issues with Louis this weekend, and so I started free-writing the following. I even toyed with the idea of including it in the book, after the fourth chapter ("Memoria"). Thought I'd share it with you. Give you an idea of the process I'm trying to work through. I find it interesting that a lot of Louis' personality is based, well, a little close to home.


The thing you need to understand about Louis Fielder is that he is capable of great things. He has the intelligence, the charisma, tha ability to adapt to new challenges. The one thing Louis Fielder lacks, the thing he always lacked, is consistent motivation. Louis is one of those particular personalities that exasperate those who love them best. This type of person suffers from a fatal lack of driving, specific ambition. If something holds their interest, they may pursue it briefly, but never consistently.

This was Louis Fielder's curse--that his great skill and ability was partnered with a crippling lack of direction.

(Where are you going, Louis?)

Louis was a "reactor." He never took the initiative. He didn't "pursue" an English degree in college; he ended up with one, by a process of elimination. After graduation, he returned to his parents' house, his old job, his old friends. He was comfortable. He didn't take risks. So when he moved south, it was the first real risk he'd taken since his last one--that ill-fated engagement.

It should be noted that even the engagement wasn't that risky--he didn't make a move until he was sure of the outcome. (Anna had to almost beg him to pop the question.) But when the relationship ended, Louis subconsciously labelled it the end-result of risky behavior. It was a mistake he didn't want to make again.

Because of this, the decision to accept Linus' offer seemed almost out-of-character to Louis' parents, but they were still thrilled to see the "change." The reason they were surprised by this, however, was that they really didn't understand their son.

It's not that Louis was lazy, or shiftless, or afraid. Certainly it would appear that way from the outside. But the character trait in Louis Fielder that defined his life was a constant sense of being in the present. Louis never looked to the future, not more than a few days or weeks. (His ability to perform miracles under the crush of impending deadlines was a learned skill, a form of self-preservation, in a world of planners and plodders.) And though his memory for personal anecdotes was encyclopedic, any grasp of past chronology failed him. Events occuring two months prior seemed to Louis to be placed in the recent past--"a few weeks ago, at most." In short, Louis had a child's sense of time.

This gave many reason to think him unmotivated, undependable, scared, lazy, weak. These opinions, though grounded in justifiable frustration, were nevertheless unfair and incomplete.

Why did Louis Fielder move south? What could have convinced the chronic procrastinator and daydreamer to make such a bold, proactive, future-focused decision?

Louis understood a great deal about himself. He was very circumspect. He understood his character flaws better than most people gave him credit for. But since the solutions to such things belonged to the realm of "process," they evaded his grasp. Any problem faced once could be easily addressed; but the challenges that required daily vigilance were his constant undoing.

Since Louis understood and acknowledged his own lack of direction, Linus' letter was a gift from above, a shining signpost, a golden ticket; and Louis hoped against hope that this move would be the first step in a process of continued forward motion and personal initiative.

The problem was, even when Louis moved into Taylor House, it was still simply a reaction. Had Linus left his estate to his firstborn (an honor Linus Jr. undoubtedly felt he deserved), it is possible--likely--that Louis would have continued to live in his parents' basement--at least, until they kicked him out and he reacted by finding new accomodations. It's not guaranteed that this would have been the case, but as I said, it's likely.

I don't mean to diminish the act of moving across country or trying to start a new life, by calling it a "reaction." However, it should be clearly understood that nothing Louis has done so far, including taking up residence in Taylor House, has been born our of an inner determination or decree; every move he's made has been orchestrated or prompted by outside forces. Whether he will be content to remain Fate's puppet is up to him.

No comments: