"I used to go down to my office and fantasize about all the books I could write instead." Michael Chabon said that, and although his abandonment of a 1500 page manuscript to write his second book (Wonder Boys) is Moby Dick to my minnow, I do identify with this quote a bit. I just left a story (but I don't know if I've abandoned it), and I've started something else, something that I don't really understand all that well.
I mean, one of the problems I have in my writing is the whole division between fact and fiction, how much of myself I need to put into each character, how much of this world, or the place that I live, do I need to add into the setting. The things I do know: the main character is someone like the narrator of Neil Gaiman's "Bitter Grounds," who's reasons for running away are a lot less subtle. There's a writer named Philip Forger, who, like some sort of novel-writing Johnny Appleseed, has gone cross-country opening up mom and pop book stores, giving the owners the sole responsibility of keeping a shelf of his books up in the store, and letting everyone who notices them have a book for free.
Possible ideas deal with how it is that these books get replaced, various short stories from a book that the narrator picks up being presented in the text, long drawn out phone calls about odd stories that people don't really tell basic strangers occuring between two people who've only recently met, etc, if you can actually think of anything etc with the examples I've given.
It feels like I'm trying to pick up a certain "story-within-a-story" quality that frames a book like Douglas Coupland's Generation X, sentences that keep on going (probably not something that Bret Easton Ellis would enjoy me citing to him), no numbered chapters, but titled sections, possibly of a certain amount of length, but I've only really written one so far. Another thing being an idea that might be taken from what I've read about Salman Rushdie's The Ground Beneath Her Feet (which I haven't read), where fictional writers' names appear at random, something I've enjoyed doing before, because it adds easy complexity and allows for naming that adds its own story to a narrative.
I feel like this could be something long and looping, that I could be writing for a long time, and I'm already thinking about adding in these little pastiches under the guise of this writer, Philip Forger. As it's probably apparent, this is exciting right now, this is something that could stretch my talent to its wit's end, which will be fun, because there is no time limit on this one, and I can just think about things, and let the story tell itself.
I'm not sure how much of the stuff flowing through my head right now is going to show up in this thing, but it feels like I have a lot to say, which isn't really a bad thing to feel, especially when you've only written one long work and one medium work, and nothing that really sustained a strong narrative for more than fifty pages.
Hopeful readings in the future, while writing this: A Model World and Other Stories by Michael Chabon, Welcome to the Monkey House from Kurt Vonnegut, possibly Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, and probably some other things to help with either short story writing, or the way I feel the plot is turning. Going to watch The Big Lebowski at some point today. I wonder if that will have any impact on this.
You know, this is one of the reasons I write. The possibilities are endless (clichéd, I know), and it seems like anything I do can suddenly function as a teaching exercise. I like that, the feeling that the only way is up.
I mean, look, the only reason there are people that are naïve optimists is because it makes them happy to be the people that they are. Philip K. Dick, ever the philosopher, even while he was writing fairly straight science fiction like Solar Lottery, said that "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away," and the question then becomes, how much of lives depend on what we believe, how much can we control by a simple command of "Think positive thoughts."
And I don't really know, but in fiction, I have the control and what happens can depend on my mood, my feelings toward a specific character, or just the words that pop into my head. I don't believe in any of this, and it was never around for it to go away, but it seems like I'm finding another reality of a sorts. Somewhere between here and The Twilight Zone, where Rod Serling is always whispering in the background of everyone's dreams. Half sleep deprived, last night, when I started writing this, it was as if I had walked into a train station and recorded each train coming past. I can see what's happening here, visualize it, and I've never been a person to be able to draw up images of a text.
So yeah, it's good right now.