Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Inadvertent Novelist...

Like I said, I am not really a writer.  

Not, at least, in the sense that someone like Asimov was a writer.  Wait, I’m not comparing myself to Isaac Asimov, God Forbid, but he was what I think of a writer as…or something like that with the preposition in the right spot.  He was driven to write.  He said so in his Opus.  He couldn’t stop.  He seemed to be bubbling over with ideas.  He wrote and wrote…maybe a thousand books?  I’ll check later on Google.  But he really poured out the goods. 

He had ideas.  Aha! I thought so: ideas are required to be a writer.  So the next question forms in my mind: Does the birth of an idea prompt the writing?  Or does the act of writing…sitting at the goddam keyboard like I am now, straining my brain, does that eventually, e-v-e-n-t-u-a-l-l-y cause an idea to erupt?

I’ll tentatively vote for the latter concept, mostly because if the former is true, then I am well and truly screwed.  I got no ideas!  So if the mere act of writing is parent to the birth of ideas worth writing about (and that in itself is a whole 'nother kettle of fish) it stands to reason (my reason at least) that if I write, write, write, I will write something having to do with an, uh, idea.

I read a really well-crafted thriller a month or so ago.  It was a full-size, novel-like, complete book written by a first-timer!  Now I suppose he wasn’t just a first-time writer, but I like the idea that he was, so in my mind, he just had an idea one day while sitting on the can or somewhere, and immediately ran to his computer and started whacking keys until he had a whole story written.  “Holy Shit!” he must have said, “All I have to do is put in Chapter numbers and think up a cool title and I AM A FIRST TIME NOVELIST!”  So he did and he did and he is.  His book is right behind me on the shelf: Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith. 

I do think he should have spent a few more minutes thinking up a better name for himself, a nom deplume you know, something waaaay more racy than “Tom Rob Smith”, but what the hell, his parents are probably pretty proud.

Bastard had an idea and then he wrote it out. Just like that.   Did a book.  Pisses me off.

My friend Ning says I should do a “witty and urbane book on some interesting but obscure moment in history...doing the research...writing the book.”

I actually had that idea once, about an obscure moment in history, but not as a witty or urbane thing.  The question: Why did Hitler stop his advance in 1940 and allow the British army to escape from Dunkirk?  It was such a turning point in the nascent world war.  Could have changed all of history.  Why, why, why?  I could have researched all the writings of the time, viewed the situation from the lofty viewpoint of time’s passage, and wormed my way into the Fuhrer’s dark mind, drawing conclusions that would rock the historians to their shinbones and create a tidal wave of criticism and controversy the only upshot of which would be that I, in order to quell the furor – or Fuhrer’s furor – would be obliged to pen a sequel.

Or maybe a movie.

But now, I don’t care anymore.  So, back in the, um, mental file drawer.  Heavy sigh.

Oh well.   Hey, I'm a little behind in my staring-into-space-while-imagining-what-it-must-be-like-to-be-a-real-writer, so if you'll excuse me...


Tomorrow, prayer flags…

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