Ross School - Senior Projects 2011
Mentor: James Earle
Domain(s): Cultural History, English
Title: “Gaze Not At The Boundless Sky”
“Gaze Not At The Boundless Sky” is a novel I wrote for my Senior Project. I studied the idea of the Collective Unconscious and the art of recreating Greek Mythology through out history. I then decided to write a work of fiction recreating the Greek Myth of Icarus in a contemporary setting after reading Daedalus and Icarus in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. “Gaze Not At The Boundless Sky” is a story about the dynamic between father and son and each other’s roles in society. Through my Senior Project, I came to understand what it is truly like to write a story of substantial length as well as plan, design and create my own unique story.
For my Senior Project I wrote a one hundred and two page novel. It is a contemporary retelling of the Greek myth, Icarus. My initial inspiration for this project came when I was in middle school. Around sixth grade I discovered a local author named Kate McMullen. She wrote a series of eight children’s books all focused on a series of different myths. In ninth grade I was able to capitalize on my interests in Greece through Ross’s M-Term program. I traveled to Greece and Italy on the second Golden Matrix Trip. On the trip the students and I were testing a new presentation software named Sophie. We each had a different theme for our presentations and I focused on Architecture and its Religious significance. Finally, during my junior year in AP Literature, I read the poem Icarus, written by Edward Field. This recreation of myth through poetry gave me the initial idea for my project and was my greatest inspiration.
Going into my project I knew three things. Firstly I wanted to do something relating to Greek mythology. Secondly I wanted to do some sort of writing piece, and thirdly I wanted to work with James Earle. Once I had the initial idea for my project I went to Mr. Earle. He introduced me to the Collective Unconscious, and this is where my project truly began. I read Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung and learned a lot about the tradition of recreating these archetypal structures or myths through out history in various civilizations. Once I had a clear understanding of the Collective Unconscious I began to read different myths translated in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. I was then assigned my summer reading. I read Pygmalion by G.B Shaw, a play recreating the myth Pygmalion. I also read Till’ We Have Faces by C.S Lewis. This is a recreation of the myth Cupid and Psyche placed in a pre-Christian feudal civilization. These two books gave me a true understanding of all the different ways I could go about recreating a myth.
With this acquired knowledge I formulated two goals. The first being to recreate a Greek myth and the second was to make successful connections between myth and contemporary society. Next I began the process of choosing a myth. This was difficult because I knew many myths, but none that I felt comfortable recreating. With this in mind I reverted back to the Icarus myth, which was my initial inspiration. I eventually chose the Icarus myth because of the many ways one can interpret it and by choosing this myth I knew there could be many possible ways to recreate it and formulate my own unique story. My next step was developing characters. This was a very important step because my novel is very character based and character driven. The story progresses through the relationship between various characters. I chose four characters from the original myth and developed certain character traits while keeping some from the original myth. I changed some characters much more drastically than others, and I truly made the characters my own. After I had solid characters I developed a plot line. The most important aspect of this stage was choosing the setting, which was difficult. I ended up choosing a Publishing Company in New York City. I chose this because I had really developed it and thought it was a good fit for the Icarus myth, which I was creating.
The next stage in my process was writing. I had never written such an extensive piece before and to tell you the truth don’t really remember how I began. I had an idea of what the first three chapters should be and a particular length. With this I began to write. My story progressed in length from a short story to a Novella and eventually, it was long enough to be called a Novel. I definitely surprised myself as far as how much I wrote.
The final step of my process was editing. This was by far the most difficult and definitely caused me to struggle with enthusiasm in my project. It gave me a clear understanding of why the professions of author and editor are kept separate. I completed three revisions of my novel. The first was done by myself and the final two edits I did with my mother.
The most difficult aspect of my project was keeping coherence within my story. I discovered I had coherence errors during the editing process. It was really difficult to plan the future in the fictional story and keep a timeline of events that made sense, especially because my story included flashbacks.
From this process I discovered that I really love writing and feel comfortable writing something of this proportion. It also really amazed me how the majority of ideas come from self-experience. I cannot tell you how many times ideas came into my head after watching movies or reading other books. My daily life really impacted the events of my story as well.
As far as the future is concerned I plan to study Classics in college. I definitely want to keep writing and focus especially on creative writing and perhaps historical fiction. I am truly happy that I completed this project, it has been a real confidence booster in terms of my writing and I find it really incredible that I was able to complete it to the extent and success that I did.
Campbell, Joseph. Myths to Live by. New York: Viking, 1972. Print.
Field, Edward. "Icarus." Print.
Hamilton, Edith, and Steele Savage. Mythology,. Boston: Little, Brown and, 1942. Print.
Jung, C. G., and Marie-Luise Von Franz. Man and His Symbols. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1964. Print.
Kilinski, Karl. "Bruegel on Icarus." JSTOR. JSTOR. Web. <http://http://docs.google.com/a/ross.org/viewer?a=v&pid=gmail&attid=0.2&thid=12ac8b2ec8300a8d&mt=application/pdf&url=http://mail.google.com/a/ross.org/?ui%3D2%26ik%3D6eba6d7512%26view%3Datt%26th%3D12ac8b2ec8300a8d%26attid%3D0.2%26disp%3Dattd%26realattid%3Df_gdiw1b9c1%26zw&sig=AHIEtbSWnIVaoQWZclaVqmYIQpxdGFfpjQ>.
Lewis, C. S. Till We Have Faces; a Myth Retold. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1957. Print.
Marquez, Gabriel G. One Hundred Years of Solitude. New York: Perennial Classics, 1998. Print.
Ovid. "Daedalus and Icarus." Metamorphoses. Print.
Shaw, Bernard 1856-1950. Pygmalion. New York: Dover Publications, 1994. Print.
Eleventh Grade English Teacher
Easthampton, New York, 11937
Shelby, being an English teacher, really helped me with the creative writing aspect of my product. After I had finished writing my novel, I sent it to him for revisions and constructive criticism. I also took his “Gabriel Garcia-Marquez” class in the fall where I read One Hundred Years of Solitude. The book was incredibly inspiring in my own writing.