Friday, April 06, 2007

Between Novels

I have been between novels for thirteen years now, during which time I wrote enough stories to make two and a half collections. So the time has not been entirely wasted; but this does not work out to a very high rate of production. I figure I have averaged 115 manuscript pages (28,750 words) a year over the past 35 years. My work speed has been very on and off. The fastest I ever wrote was Ring of Swords in 18 months. Some years I write nothing.

I don't entirely miss novels. My favorite form of writing is linked short stories. I figure each section has the compactness and tightness of short fiction, while the continuing characters and situations give the complexity of a novel.

But I've been wondering if my current problem is boredom. Maybe I am tired of the kind of writing I've been doing in recent years. Maybe I should try something new: a huge, trashy, epic quest fantasy, for example. Though that might be too ambitious. Maybe I should try a compact, slightly trashy, epic quest fantasy. A modest quest. A peasant traveling to get rid of a doom-ridden kitchen chair at the sawmill where the wood was cut...

Obviously, the above paragraph is intended to be silly. But most of my recent fiction tries to do fairly difficult things. The absolutely current story is about time travel, quantum computers and the relation of the quantum universe and the universe we see and feel. It's also a tall tale and a joke. I am collecting copies of Science News and New Scientist with articles that might be relevant, since the story's science can be a joke, but I don't want it to be stupid. It hurts to think about the story. Quantum gravity is not a strength for me. (Yo, Kelly! How is your wife on quantum theory?)

I wonder what would happen if I relaxed, kicked back and wrote something undemanding.


Anonymous said...

Well, it might be quite fun.

When I don't feel up to starting or revisiting one of the big ideas, I usually write another parody of Moby Dick. It always opens my mind right up - it's so ridiculously arrogant and unachievable - and spurs some new big oh-so-serious idea.


Anonymous said...

Strangely, Eleanor, it's Kelly who's better on quantum, not his physicist wife. Defintitely run your thoughts past him--he was really helpful on some quantum questions I had with "Cloverleaf One".