On (not) Writing Fiction and Other Book Ideas

Posted: January 13, 2013 in Community, Wordpress

It has taken very little effort to learn how to not write fiction. In that sentence I am using the word not as a negation of the act of writing fiction, not as a word which connotes incorrect fiction writing. There are plenty of books available that seek to instruct a writer how to avoid the pitfalls of poor writing (i.e. how to not write fiction). I know of no book which explains how easy it is to not write fiction.  That is probably because to not write fiction you simply must not write.

That is what I learned last week when I started to write a piece of fiction. After writing a few pages, I decided that attempting to write fiction was a bad idea. I will revisit that idea many times, as I have done in the past, but I now recall how easy it is to decide not to write fiction. If it was easy to write fiction, more people would do it, I suppose.  It would then be no great feat and fewer people would decide not to do it. Things are as they should be.

Book Ideas

Among the many book ideas I have had, a couple rank higher than others.  Years ago I stumbled upon the idea of writing a cookbook for Freshmen students. Young men are most often ignorant about the basics of cooking, most probably because they do not understand how it fulfills the prime objective of attending college. If I shaped the title of the book accordingly, I think it might become popular. The title of the book was to be How Learning to Cook can Help You Get Laid. There might be a better way to say that. (That is what editors are for.) I think male freshmen are more likely to pick up a book by that title than Joy of Cooking.

Cover of "Joy of Cooking"

Cover of Joy of Cooking

Another book idea came to me in a dream. I dreamed the entire book. When I woke, the idea was so fresh upon my mind that I wrote the synopsis in one sitting. A rugged man living in the suburbs inherits an estate in the mountains of Colorado and decides to make a long desired transition in life, sells all he owns and moves to Colorado.  He arrives to find that he has inherited a wonderful home (I drew a picture of it) on a good parcel of land, bordered on the back side by a thin forest of trees nudged against a long cliff which has long been the home of bats that live in the cliff caves. The fissures are accessible, (after a perilous climb) through the portals of caves visible here and there.

On the higher elevation is a small college town. Access to the town is gained by use of a small valley trail which winds upwards from the inherited homestead. The rugged man, whom I named John, acquaints himself with his home, and after accidentally dislodging a fireside stone, finds a tiny wooden box hidden away by his grandfather. He opens the box and retrieves a small tear-drop shaped amulet  attached to a gold chain.  He slips the necklace around his neck and opens the crunchy folds of a letter that was tucked into the box along with the amulet.  He reads a set of cryptic directions on how to use the amulet in order to begin a mystical spiritual experience. There is no reference to what the experience entails. That piece of information will become known later, during a trek to explore the caves on the cliffs, and after he falls in love with a college professor he will soon meet. There was an antagonist too – a young man who secretly admired the very college professor that John would soon meet. A drama ensues and resolves as a prelude to the eventual discovery of certain secrets found in the caves, and John’s decision to act out the alleged mystical ritual.

The finding of clues in the cave are not what solely prompted his curiosity. It was instead the consistent appearance of bear tracks leading to the doorway under the house which went into the root cellar. While the door was locked, the tracks laid upon the ground in a fashion that indicated that a very large bear had walked right through the doorway and the thick wooden door which should have precluded that option. The idea of a bear that could walk through doors haunted him until he found the clues he sought on the walls of the caves he explored with his interested companion, the aforementioned and lovely college professor.

The ritual itself, initiated after dropping the amulet into a blazing campfire whereupon a cloud of red smoke engulfed John, causing him to succumb to an intoxicated trance, revealed the meaning of the four stages of manhood: birth, adolescence, maturity and old age. All of this was revealed to him by a spirit bear which served as his dream guide. He would follow the bear from the campfire near the house and walked directly toward the doorway under the house. Later when he awoke from his dream state, the only confirming evidence of his adventure, would be the tracks of the bear leading to the doorway, with the exception of the appearance of his own tracks stamped into the earth alongside those of the bear’s.

Several chapters of reconciling spiritual drivel and meaning follow until at last the story reveals that John marries the college professor. [Scene.] They stand together on the timbered front porch of the grandfather’s abode  ready to enter as husband and wife. One last embrace on the front porch is interrupted by the distant appearance of a female bear crossing the grassy pasture which sprawls for miles in front of the house, followed by two bear cubs. John’s bride submits a knowing grin and turns to walk into the house. John follows, but in reprise, turns one last time to gaze across the field when he spies a gigantic male bear raised on his haunches to his full height of almost twelve feet, and while looking directly at John, roars with all the territorial bravado one’s imagination can muster.

John roars back. The two are suspended in a stare until the mother bear sends a signal of impatience to the towering male, who quickly acquiesces as he resumes his sauntered step across the field.  John smiles while caught in the moment when a delicate hand reaches from within the cabin to grab him by the collar and not-too-gently pulls him into the house. The door shuts. [Pan out with aerial view to panoramic scene showing the house, land and the distant and continued trek by the family of bears.]


And then I awoke from my sleep and the full-colored dream ended.

It occurs to me now that not writing fiction is going to be more difficult that I originally thought. For the immediate future, as is probably just and wise, freshmen are on their own.

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