Petalwing the GPS and the Treasure of the Lost (Story) Arc

(This will make sense by its end.)

Because the local Circuit City store was going out of business, I was able to purchase a GPS for my van at a deep discount. This is one of those devices that, if you don’t have one, you can’t imagine ever needing one, but once you get one, you can’t imagine how you lived without it.

(I felt the same about a fax machine, and then about a cell phone. I am not an early adopter of technology.)

It was while taking a drive one beautiful day, up into the hills northwest of Poughkeepsie, rolling along secluded country roads, that I discovered the true nature of the little device suctioned to the windshield. I might have been concerned, because I had no road map of the area, but because the GPS satellites are always available, all I had to do was touch the “go home” button on the screen, and I was on my way. The husky female synthesized voice said “Go two point three miles and turn right…”

And then it hit me, along with a fit of chortling. I need to diddle the sound chip to make the voice much higher, much more “BREEEET DEET DEE!” Because the thing on the windshield isn’t a high-tech device. It’s a Preserver!

In issue #15 of the original Elfquest series, once Voll is freed from Winnowill’s stupor, he suddenly remembers one of the High Ones’ deepest truths: “Yes… Yes, of course! The Preservers’ long absence made me forget their most important function! One simple request – ‘Take us home’ – and Petalwing will guide us to the Palace of the High Ones!”

Or, in my case, Poughkeepsie.

I related this delightful revelation to Wendy. She laughed, then after a moment got thoughtful and asked, “Do you ever wonder what Rawson is going through with the screenplay, what he’s going to take out, what he’s going to leave in?”

I was momentarily surprised, and realized that she was herself wondering what choices our director/screenwriter might have to make – what scenes, what bits of business might have to be trimmed to make the Elfquest movie work best.

I replied, almost instantly, “No, I’m not. And I’ll tell you why.”

“You know all those Indiana Jones Arabian Nights Mummy’s Tomb find the immense mind-blowing treasure movies? And you know how there’s always someone who’s along for the ride, maybe one of the guides or one of the bearers, who gets greedy and who decides he’s just got to grab all the treasure he can possibly carry? And then when the ship hits the sand and everything’s coming apart, he has a choice either to get rid of the gold so he can run faster, or to try to hang on to it all? And he always makes the wrong decision, and ends up being sucked down into the quicksand or eaten by the bugs or falling into the chasm.”

“And then there’s the hero, who’s gotten tossed around through the whole thing, but who comes out at the end bruised and beaten, but at least alive. And you think, ‘Oh well, he’s alive, that’s got to be worth losing all the treasure.’ But then it turns out he’s not left with nothing – either some jewels or a gold sword or something manages to turn up in a pocket or saddle bag. And you realize that, for the hero, that little bit of treasure is worth everything in the world, it’s the perfect reward.”

Which is why I am not wondering about the decisions Rawson Thurber is wrestling with right now, what to leave in, what to leave out. In an email to Wendy he said:

“The script is coming along nicely but it’s been a strange process for me. Your writing and plotting are so strong and right-on that I find myself – at this point in the narrative – more of a translator than a writer. A new, and interesting, experience for me. It’s almost like cheating.”

“Of course, I’m 15 pages longer than where I’d hoped to be at this point in the story (which is natural but frustrating, nonetheless). I think I’m just gonna write through to the finish line and then figure out how to reduce what’s likely to be a 160-page draft. You’ve provided me an embarrassment of riches, Ms. Pini.”

He’s a good storyteller, and he knows that if he tries to load too much treasure into his screenplay’s pockets the film will sink into disaster, and the riches that he does finally choose will be perfect for the film that is meant to be.

And that, cublings, is how an on-sale GPS came to be a Preserver and to create a feeling of calm confidence in these early stages of development in the Elfquest movie.