Unfinished Novel #73

How I View Writers

Cowboys, bipolars, pirates and nerds. We're all writing a book -- not apart, but as one (we just don't know it). I see us all together, all over the world, head's down and hovering, a foot or two above our desks, briefly in the astral plain. It's not a pretty sight, barely a collaboration... The bowed heads, like monks, the bent bodies like sprinters at the block, always ready to start. Some jump the gun; some are still waiting, listening for the starter-gun crack. We're writing the great American novel, the great Pakistani novel, the great South African novel, the great Australian novel -- the novel of a not-so-great planet.

Some hear Homer. Some hear whispering muses, their mothers, or just miscellaneous voices from the past and from the future. We borrow those voices, the million monkeys at their computers, and align them with the visions (myopia, my opiate). The playwright writes in a different dimension: enteur, exuent, and cue the lights. The short story writer is taking an hour from a life and blowing it up like a balloon. The poet takes a nanosecond and stretches it for all of time. The satirist, unhappy cornball that he is, is putting a spin on it all and grinning. The science finctionalist, with his sublimely healthy contempt for truth, turns the world on its ear and the universe inside out.

We sit upright from time to time, and rub our eyes until we see stars. We dream a lot or not at all, at night, wrestling with our characters, kickboxing at our insecurities, grappling with our egos, trying to become egoless while leaving hasty smudges in the thesaurus. We go to a lot of movies, too, because it's one of the few places you just can't write, a guiltless place, and fun too.

We eat each other's words with a mix of awe and hatred. And love. We are proprietary with our words. Tessellate. Inexorable. Threnody. Touchstone. (Hands off, buster.)

[more to follow, maybe]


A novel by

Kit Thompson

Chapter One

May of 2000 had been a record month in the tiny town of Oleander, Maine. Of course, many things stayed the same: the river kept flowing from up in Machias down and out the Penobscot to the sea, changing from blue to green to brown to ice-white and back, as it had season after season since the beginning of Time. The death rate for 1999 had peaked at fifteen, the birth rate twelve, keeping things on pretty much of an even keel.

Marty Mannheim, tip-toeing past his dead wife’s bedroom for the seven-hundredth time since her passing, pondered the ordinariness of it all, and kept pondering as he smoked his pipe in his cozy, firelit library. The room was warm. Still a shiver inched down his spine as he looked over his charts and graphs for the thousandth time. It couldn’t be. But it was.

He sighed and hurled his pipe at the fireplace where it exploded in a shower of sparks. It couldn’t be. In the tiny town of Oleander, something very strange had occurred – was occurring – and nobody but he had even noticed. While the weather seemed perfectly normal, if a touch humid, but things in general were – meteorologically speaking – right straight off the banana.

* * *

Mary walked north up Polk Street. Above her, the May sky was clear as a baby’s eyes. The inevitable fog was rolling in from the Pacific one hundred city blocks away. Five minutes later, she was descending the hill, heading toward the Marina where she lived with her boyfriend, Max. She had had a good day at work, analyzing quilt patterns for a textile design firm. She loved her job. It didn’t pay much, but she was surrounded by beauty all day. [describe quilt patterns here]. She checked her pulse rate on her new arm-band Pulsarsis. Not bad, for a thirty-two year old woman. She pulled out her Palm and checked on Targasus, Metal-Ryder, AOL-Microsoft-Time, and Pidgeon Woman Designs.

All up. What a day. She reached the park and began running her fingers through her long blond hair, subconsciously beautifying herself for her Max-will-make-a-million. She gazed up at the sky, slowing for just a moment at the corner of Polk and Columbus to thank the goddesses for the bounties bestowed on her unworthy grrrl-self. Then she hurried toward home and hearth, two blocks west on Union, head down, admiring her new Spartas and how they made her delicate ankles look even more delicate. She didn’t notice that two miles up in the air, and about a mile to the west, toward the yawning infinity of the Pacific, the inevitable fog that moments before had been moving in its inexorable, pointless and daily path to cover the city, had stopped. Stopped in its tracks, and slowly rolled back.