November 10, 2010

The Fact on Fiction

For some reason, someone, somewhere, sometime, decided that November was the month to write a novel. Not finish one, not publish one, but write the entire thing, all 50,000+ words, and call it good.

And now, it's kind of a big deal.

Which, I suppose, ought to be considered a good thing. Reading is good; writing is, perhaps, better, in that it requires the cognitive processes needed to produce content, not just process it. And so whatever impetus one can provide to spur the collective imaginations of Americans, too often content to absorb rather than create, should be lauded.

Of course, most of the work produced in a month is going to be rushed; and a lot of it is written by people who, if we're being generous, are somewhere on the wrong side of James Joyce. But surely, some of it is good. The laws of physics, or something, seem to dictate that with such a volume of writing, something good must come from it.

On that, I have but one wish: Someone write a good coffee novel. To the best of my knowledge, this has never been attempted before. No tales of globe trotting bean pickers, cafe sitting pseudo philosophers, or chicken legged baristi. This is really as shame, because coffee is so often a vehicle for stories. Going for coffee, of course, is almost synonymous with catching up with old friends, or perhaps meeting new ones. And so it stands to reason, to me at least, that such a phenomenon deserves to be explored in its own narrative.

Of course, this raises the obvious question: Why don't I just try and write one myself? Well, first of all, I haven't a clue how one would go about plotting such a venture. In fact, I haven't much of a clue how one goes about plotting in general. I have no doubts that I could write 50,000 words in a month (just read my posts); but I am much less sure that those 50,000 words would have anything to do with one another, and come together to form anything beyond a series of loosely tied together addled ramblings.

There is the fact that, when it comes to writing, I'm very fleeting. That is, I have very little interest in writing something if it can't be finished in one sitting. An idea strikes, and I pound out words until it feels exhausted. Sometimes, in truth, the order is reversed. But the point is, the idea of sitting down daily to the same manuscript, of embracing any sort of continuity, scares me.

So no, I am not the man for the job. Someone else is out there, however -- at least I hope they are -- penning the first great coffee novel.

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