Hard at work

“I wasn’t sleeping, I was thinking!” –attributed to Lillian Hellman

I get a new idea for a book project. I like it; it’s different from what I’ve been working on, shiny and new, filled with all possibility.

But the project as it exists in my head requires an in-depth knowledge of certain things–knowledge I don’t really have, though I’m generally familiar with the subject.

Research is required. But that’s all right–I really like research. The web is very useful in assembling book lists and outlining the topic. Instant wisdom: I love me some search engines. Some really useful articles can be found online too.

But as I read over the spines in my book accumulation, I realize that, from years of poking around  the edges of the topic and returning obsessively to it again and again,  I have a  lot of the needful books already.

I pull them  down from the shelves and make a big pile of them next to the couch where I do most of my reading. Right at my elbow. Then I sit down and admire them, their comprehensiveness, the multiple insights they’ll provide, the sparks of new information that will give me compelling details, plot points, new books even!

Some of the books I’ve read already, not recently though. Others I’ve never got around to somehow, but always knew they’d come in handy some day.

Someday soon I will read my way down the stack.

In my mind, the pile of as-yet unread books begins to take on a shape, the form of the novel yet to be written. Orders, dominions. I start to rearrange the stack, rebalancing, creating hidden connections, obvious and not so obvious juxtapositions

Once the book-henge is created, it’s almost superfluous to actually write the novel.

One day while I am sitting, not reading, but admiring the stack, it occurs to me that one book, one I’ve already read, and that superficially relates to the topic, doesn’t really belong.

I get up. I take the offending volume out of the stack. I leaf through it to confirm my judgment. Just as i thought; it doesn’t fit. I return it to the shelves.

I feel a great sense of accomplishment.

Hey, I’m done for the day!


1 Response to “Hard at work”

  1. July 1, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Hey Marc!

    Just finished reading Tiny Little Troubles. Was even better than Vinnie’s Head. The dark humour you mix with your crime novels is like icing on the cake. Next to a good round of golf is a sharp well written crime novel. You are an amazing and gifted writer. Keep the books coming.

    While I found your novels at our local public library, I would have been happy to buy it from a book store. The next one I’ll pay for.

    All the Best!

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