stabbing snowmen where it hurts
so, like most english-heady types with MAs in Lit and other such-type degrees, I'm writing a novel. I've been working on it for 2 years now, and am barely 3 chapters along. Some might call that slow progress. I would point out that slow progress is progress and better than none at all.
the inevitable question that comes after you tell someone you are working on a novel is the dreaded, 'So what is it about?' This is probably the worst question you can ask someone, even though most times the question is genuine, people like to be in on the ground floor, like to share ideas, and if they are your friend, they like to know what you are up to. The problem comes when one tries to answer this question. Any answer one can give is bound to fall in one of two categories.
a) The pompous, 'reaching for great literary themes' answer. Listen. You know as well as i do that i want to write a good novel, something worth reading, something that adds to the avalanche of words published every year in a positive way. So an author answers your question by hoisting out big words, big theories, big air-balloons filled with hot air.
b) The nearly impossible to understand rant of 'well it's about this and that and these and that and this,' because, well, we aren't done writing the damn thing yet. Can't very well give you the back cover synopsis if most of my book is left unfinished now can I?
To a certain extent this second answer isn't entirely true. Of course we know what we are trying to do, otherwise, what's the point? One doesn't just sit down and type. Only bad things can come of that. There needs to be some sort of plan. An arc, or anti-arc or something propelling a few fictiony type folks across some sort of narrative terrain. So enough hemming and hawing and what is my book about then? Well I'll give you as much of the 'back cover synopsis' as I can. Keep in mind we write best what we read, and what I'm working on is a mix of canon-y types and comic-books, I have no pretensions to greatness, but I think its an interesting yarn nonetheless.
The story is a sort of fairy-tale. One day, in the not too far off future, the world gets undone because a single person ceases to believe in it. In that moment 99.99% of the population disappears, leaving behind only those who were not properly 'in' the world at that moment, drunks, the insane, those who are day-dreaming, children mostly, but a few adults also. This new world is incredibly fragile but also maleable, all sorts of strange things begin happening to time and space and physical laws as reality begins to take the form its few remaining inhabitants playfully, and perhaps not so playfully, imagine.
Before the 'Big Sleep' as many of the orphan children come to call it (Most refusing to believe their parents are gone, they've just 'gone to sleep' and will wake up and return very soon) a young man named Edward whose relationship with his young wife has splintered because of the loss of their young daughter, has been on a week-long binge, drinking himself to oblivion. When the world 'skips a beat' he remains, in a city rapidly descending into flame and ruin. A young girl named Sylvie saves Edward and the two make their way across an America that is much changed, with a giant void in its heart. What awaits the two on the other side is a nightmare worse than either could imagine.
So yeah, excuse the more dramatic phrases above, I am in 'back cover blurb' state of mind after all. And don't even begin to ask what I plan on calling the damn thing. One thing at a time, please.