It seems to me that almost everything I do in my life is an experiment of one kind or another. I look at some activity like writing or drawing or playing music or computer programming and I think, well just how the hell does that work anyway?  And I try it myself to see.  The life of a human is fundamentally just a big ongoing experiment, is it not?  Take, for example, my attempts at fiction writing.  I’ve made a few attempts to write short stories, none of which seemed very satisfactory to me.  Sometime in recent years the idea of writing a novel excited my imagination, and about a year and half ago I started seriously thinking about it, making notes, plot sketches, character sketches, etc.  Then I finally sat down and started writing actual text.  I’ve mentioned this novel idea in some earlier posts on this blog.  The basic idea was a sort of genre action/adventure story set in a future America, with a woman action heroine who struggles for survival in a post-industrial world.  Seemed like kind of a cool story, and one which I thought (foolishly, probably) might possible garner some popular interest.

I had a regular routine of morning writing for a while.  I was getting enthusiastic about it.  But as the work progressed I found it difficult to keep up the momentum of the story.  The problem was that it came to seem increasingly contrived, even trite, the more I worked on it.  One morning I started in on my usual writing routine and then suddenly realized that I couldn’t go on with it.  I no longer had any interest in the story because it was just basically too superficial.  It didn’t move me or inspire me.

I thought for a while that maybe I should forget about trying to write fiction and just stick with poems.  Then about a month later an idea came to me for a much different novel.  It would take an old idea I had kicked around a few years ago, of an elderly man and elderly woman who meet by chance and fall in love, and take a somewhat experimental, poetic approach to telling the story.  This is a story that really interests me now and which I would really love to write.  The structure of the book would be unusual, taking some inspiration from the modular fictions of Italo Calvino, and it would be loose, spacious, and open, like the feel of Peter Matthiessen’s Far Tortuga.  Probably most of the book would consist of conversation between the two main characters.  I now think that if I want to write fiction I should not be constrained by conventional techniques of novel-construction!  It would be best to follow the inspiration, to go my own way and write it as I feel it.  I’m planning to start work on this in June after Heidi and I get back from our trip to Japan.

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