Taking into account all advice that I have received so far, and based, more importantly, on my own intuition, I think I have come to the best compromise to getting a publishable piece. It involves taking a few key scenes from Side: B of Outside the Garage and strategically placing them in Side: A, to give it a frame narrative. I guess, since, when I first started, in addition to The Great Gatsby and Catcher in the Rye, I was also quite heavily influenced by Kurt Vonnegut and Chuck Palahniuk, so, it makes sense, then, that it would turn out this way.
Last week, when I was bored, I experimented with the manuscript and made a third person, present tense version.
This gave me a basic to work from, since I was already working on it, and felt good about it, but felt like something was missing. Coincidentally, around this same time, my friend gave me her feedback from reading a version, and it meshed up with other advice I have received, and that made me decide to take steps to get it to where it needs to be in order to be publishable--even if it means rewriting it. So I read some YA Lit books and started taking notes, and did some writing activities to get my mind refreshed. Then, I took everything so far into consideration and thought about where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do, and I decided that, if a non-linear plot is what it takes to get it to that point, then so be it.
Then I went back to books I had been reading and studying over the course of this past semester, and it occurred how I already had a frame, and I could easily make it more cohesive from beginning to end. So I take the moment where Evie/Edie is shot, which is a climatic moment about 2/3 of the way through the third person, present tense version, and made it the opening scene, thus giving myself a firm external piece of framework for the beginning, and then I sparsely interspersed into Side: A scenes of him coming back into cognizance, dreams that he was having during that time frame, and him having a mental breakdown, so that there is a sort of natural progression between the internal story and the external frame.
This all gives it a natural sort of progression from the beginning to the end, which was always there, but it was as evident without the external framework. This also makes some of the more outlandish narrative stuff I have put in there make sense within the context of the story since it all makes sense as a part of his mental state.
Then there is a moment, about 3/4 of the way through, where he comes back into full cognizance, and the last bit of it is kind of like the coda.
That's why I made the design make it look like it is two halves of a rock opera, with liner notes and stuff in the beginning to complete the effect. As I believe it has a sort of musical quality to it, I feel like it is fitting and natural, for me, to do something like that, since I was, of course, the one making rock operas through my twenties--I don't know that they were any good since I am not a very good singer--but I enjoyed making them, and so this is kind of a tribute to that, when I was also beginning to start writing fiction.
While I wouldn't say that I am successful (I am not that delusional), I have been doing it long enough that I either need to put the pieces together and really try and make it work, while I find a job to pay the bills, and continue reaching for my dreams, or just fully devoting myself to a career, and giving it all up.
I am not willing to do that, though. It is a dream, but it is also a hobby, and that's what they are for, right? Ways for us to pursue our childhood fantasies? I can do both, and just do it. The best material comes from life, and I have a lot of great ideas for future projects, that have come out of living. If I have to work somewhere else while I am doing it, that is okay. I keep telling myself that, anyways.
If there is one thing I have learned, as a writer, it's that you have to keep attempting to grow, experimenting and seeing what happens. At least my writing will be honest. That's all I can hope for anyways. That is my dream.