Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Novel Idea

Over the past few years, I've had an on-again-off-again desire to write a book. I'd prefer a novel, as it poses a great challenge to me. Making an argument through fiction requires a lot of creativity; plus, stories are generally more fun than essays and such.

I got real excited about this in early June of this year, so excited that I actually begin one. It was going to be about a kid who just recently graduated college and was currently living abroad in an East Asian country (I told you I don't have much of an imagination). The book would chronicle the present but also flashback to episodes from his past. The thesis would have been something about fear and how people choose to respond to it.

My masterpiece made it four pages into my journal before I fell asleep and never touched it again. As with most things in my life, I initially got uber-excited, did some brief work, and, when the newness wore off, stopped. As I read back over it though, those four pages were terrible. Boring and poorly written, lacking creativity. Writing a novel is hard.

I've learned over these past couple months that creativity shouldn't really be an issue because life is so much wierder than anything I could make up. In fact, some of the things that happen to me would be scoffed at as overly ridiculous if I had fabricated them.

Random dude getting his kicks by peeing on the Borders bathroom floor?

Ben, that's too over the top. No one will believe that.

Guy walking into Borders, asking a clerk to help him find a cd, then later stealing that same cd, leaving behind the empty case?

Come on, Humphries, no one would do that. People are either mean or nice, but no one would be that manipulative and demeaning. Plus, employee contact decreases the likelihood of shoplifting

Woman complaining that there is, in fact, not enough explicit material on her DVD?

Come back from Wonderland, Alice, this is Real World South Charlotte.

Elderly man describing what he watched last night at 2am on HBO to me, a Borders employee, in FULL detail (including body motions)?

Preposterous. A serious writer would never make such a thing up.

Yet, I couldn't make stuff up like this with a straight face if I tried. Wierd things happened at college all the time, but that never surprised me. One of the primary purposes of college is to do krazy stuff that you will never have the opportunity and the social acceptance to do again. How surprised I have been to see that the wierdness continues on the flip side, as the kids say. The only difference is that this time they aren't on purpose, and the excuse of youth no longer applies. Which makes them all the funnier.

Life is just plain odd, odder than I ever dreamt it to be. The longevity of my blog testifies to this. I thought I'd of run out of ideas long ago. And yet, the material just keeps coming because life keeps coming.

Maybe my next chef d'oeuvre will be non-fiction because, honestly, in a world like this, who needs to make stuff up?


Jenn Pappa said...

haha excellent post

Actually I've been reading Great Expectations the past week or so and I've been thinking a lot about this topic. Dickens seems to have written based on his life, yet the stories are better than real life. They are fun to read because the weirdness makes sense after a while and has a point and everything comes together at the end. Part of a good story, in my opinion, is that at the end of the it, the little world that the author created has a point and is in much more order than the one I seem to be living in. Dickens seems to have a clear separation between the good people and the bad and I haven't finished the novel yet, but I'm assuming I'll understand the ending because of the events described throughout the book--- it won't (I hope) be random or unexplained.
And even though life isn't like this, I like that the little world I get wrapped up in every day IS like that.

Oakley said...

You've certainly got my endoresment to write a novel. Part of the reason that personal novels and even blogs are so popular is that people genuinly want to know what other people's honest thoughts are. It seems to me that we as human beings feel so cut off from one another and never communicate that we're starving for intellectual interaction. Being away from college is definitely like being unplugged from the "intellectual internet" where ideas and thoughts saturate everything. Lemme know if you need a chapter for your novel 'cause I've got LOADS of material.

Tammy said...

You could do a book in the fashion of James Herriot's "All Creatures Great and Small" series. They were really like "blogs in retrospect." All the insane yet mundane incidents from his life as a country vet, they show human nature. I may not be able to relate to the circumstances he describes, but his reactions to those circumstances, and the joys and dilemmas that day to day interaction with other people brings, speak to everybody.
If you wrote a book like that, I would definitely read it. In fact, I might even buy it. :)