Abandonment Syndrome

My wife and I had an idea to collaborate on a book, and we began in earnest a few weeks back, made some progress, and then completely lost interest at the same time. I was reminded, once again, of one of my favorite Taoist sayings: to know when to stop is the beginning of wisdom.

For me, writing takes momentum, and it’s also a kind of contact sport. I tend to attack the keyboard when I write and I usually pre-write in my head while biking or hiking in the mountains. Without the kinetic energy, stories wither and fade, as this one did. There were a few good ideas. I think it’s only a matter of time before someone revives Wilhelm Reich‘s theory of the orgone, but this time as an app and a wearable accessory. Just the other day I came across a new product idea that was not so different from the one I was imagining, although mine was significantly more radical and unlikely. Science fiction is becoming more and more impossible, as the pace of real change outruns most attempts to prefigure it. I came across a William Gibson quote of interest, that it is more difficult for us today to imagine the past that’s gone before than it is to imagine the future to come. We are already one foot into tomorrow, but life in our grandparents’ time and before becomes more inconceivable by the moment.

I think part of the attraction of dystopia stems from this difficulty. It’s so much easier to blow everything up and start over than it is to speculate the likelier normal trending scenarios. To set a story far in the future is almost a cheat – but I’m considering going to that particular well yet again. (Speaking of wells, Murakami’s Wind-up Bird Chronicle features at length the idea of seeing stars at midday from the bottom of a well, and I just came across a passage in Sebald’s Vertigo which prefigured that. I imagine that Murakami took the idea from there and ran with it – but Sebald does more with one sentence than Murakami with a volume).

My son and I are thinking about Book Three in our Epic Fail series and so far we have nothing. Nada. We could follow Soma in her transformation into a sort of “keeper”. It’s a possibility. First we want to have a title, though, as we did with the first two books. So now I’m going around trying to think of titles to propose to him. I’ve already abandoned a few. When in doubt, throw it out.


(Today’s WTF moment in book reviews, courtesy of Amazon.com re The Part Time People. “I really liked this book”. 2 stars)

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