I begin with the desire to write, but without a clear idea
of what to write or for whom.
Was that ever a problem for James Joyce? Hard to imagine
I find myself writing about prose in verse
lyric nonsense where there ought to be
hard-edged facts, well-drawn characters
places so real you forget where you are
reading or writing or sitting.
Is it best to begin by enumerating one's strengths or one's weaknesses?
What I could write, like what hill I could actually climb,
or what I would like, imagining that I could learn
to climb better and higher with some practice,
some magic, some silly Keith Urban songs?
I'm reading now a book by China Miéville
that I think would be called urban fantasy,
but it's really a police procedural just set
in some sort of alternate city -- haven't got too far
so I don't know what to make yet of the people
who are there but not there. Undoubtedly
it will all be tied together.
So this is just the kind of book I could write,
perhaps not so well as Mr. Miéville, who has had
much more practice. But it is the kind of book
I would want to write? One of my other projects
is a detective story set in the 1960s, maybe just the same thing,
setting something in the past and setting something
in the future or some alternate present.
Why still this pretense to verse? When it's just prose
and prose not in any way special, line breaks
intrude, comma splices permitted, no need to save
paper. I have a couple other books from the library
that are novels told as connected stories
with various narrative personae and location
all of it adding up to a whole story
but bringing the ordinary reader along.
So that's something I do want, an ordinary reader,
even a teenager, not an aspiring literary critic or
college literature teacher in search of deep meaning.
However deep the meaning might be.
I can write anything I want, but I can't lose my voice
even when disguised by character and plot and setting.