process is a strange thing

All writers work differently. I do this now less than I used to, but I always liked to draw, and when I’m really planning something out, I sometimes draw maps and diagrams. It helps me remember things.

Someone in my local NaNoWriMo forum posted a link to novelist Richard Kadrey’s plot outlines notes. There’s an odd familiarity in it, perhaps because I don’t think especially linearly.

The closest equivalent I have for that in a current work in progress is this: When I was working on my NaNoWriMo research, I sat through the penultimate episode of Ric Burns’ documentary New York. And I took notes. I feel sort of like a fraud now, because these are too neat and orderly seeming to be the product of a mind planning a novel, but I uploaded them anyway, if you’re interested: PDF. No, the crazier part of this process was, I think, the notes I wrote after I finished watching the film. I wound up not using a lot of this, so I feel okay posting the notes. They were:

Harvey’s parents are Russian Jews. Harvey Greenberg. His mother (Anessa) emigrated to the US in the 1920s as a young girl, but she’s prone to flights of fancy about escaping pogroms. Harvey’s father (Bruce) was born in the US and raised in Brooklyn. They have a pretty standard courtship in high school, then he gets drafted so they have a quickie wedding in 1944 before he gets shipped off to war. Thus Harvey is born in 1945, his father returns home in the spring of 1946 on the Queen Mary. Bruce has some sort of factory job. Anessa is a housewife and also very religious. Generally, they are not wealthy, but they get by.

UN opens in the fall of 1952: Harvey should witness it and be inspired by the wacky architecture.
Harvey would naturally be opposed to urban renewal, although a lot of it happens when he’s a kid. By 1960 (age 15) manufacturing jobs are starting to be lost as public works projects wipe out factories. Bruce loses his job in this period?

Penn Station begins to be demolished on 10/28/63. It took 3 years total to tear it all down, and most of its parts wound up in the Meadowlands. (Field trip?)

Vote on Lower Manhattan Expressway was in December of 1962. Too early for Harvey to live in West Village, but there would have been a preservation movement in place by the time he got there.

Graffiti started showing up on subway cars in the 70s. They were colorful trains set against the backdrop of a gray, decaying city. The devastation in the 70s, when the city was in the throes of a financial crisis with no end in sight, is what spurred a lot of creativity (rap for instance) and some optimism. The whole history of New York City is someone burning it down, then rebuilding on the ashes.

Too obvious a metaphor to have Harvey’s parents’ building burned down?

World Trade Center construction:
Plans to build cemented in 1962.
Architects: Minoru Yamasaki (with Emery Roth & Sons, but most lists say Emery Roth only built 7 World Trade Center, which was a 1986 addition)
Model unveiled in 1964
Structural engineering firm: Worthington, Skilling, Helle & Jackson
Groundbreaking in August 1966, construction of North Tower in 1968 (topped out Dec. 1970), South Tower in 1969 (July 1971), Dedication in 1973.

Harvey and Russell would have to meet mid-1970, when Harvey is 25. (Might make sense if he’s an architecture underling.) Russell is a few years older, an engineer working on the building’s structure. They argue about the aesthetic value of the building: Harvey thinks it’s ugly, Russell thinks it’s an engineering marvel. Masters in architecture means Harvey would graduate in May 1969. He spends the summer goofing off, finds out when he gets home from Woodstock that he has an interview at Emery Roth (?). (Or would he interview with Port Authority?)

Harvey would have been up to other things in the interim. Met a guy at Stonewall, they dated through the summer of 1969, but Harvey got this architecture job and had to work, and his hippie boyfriend relocated to San Francisco? Harvey is mildly heartbroken, but all is forgotten when he sees Russell.