Thursday, October 28, 2004

Novel thoughts about fridge magnets


Fridge magnet-powered inspiration
.
After many months of dithering I have vowed to finally pull my finger out and start, and finish, a novel. I'll be signing up for Blogspot national novel writing month, with the express intention of completing something by the end of November. OK, it's US-based and not an international novel writing month but let's not be picky on this one.

.
My biggest stumbling block to date has been my failure to come up with a plot that I find interesting and that doesn't involve ripping off Homer or Shakespeare. As well as being a hard task, this is also dumb.

.
I know what I want to write about and the style I will adopt. I could fashion something out of a story set in a fish and chip shop or a taxi ride. The context, the setting, even the plot are secondary issues.

.
But I cannot help myself. I need to come up with something I like.

.
Tracy tried to help the other night. She came home, whipped out a notepad and pen and hunched down in front of one of our many bookcases. The plan was to analyse my favourite novels and synthesise a framework for my own effort out of all the best bits. Poor lass, she's been working with accountants for far too long.

.
After offending her by saying that she had been working with accountants for far too long, I explained that I didn't think this plan would work. I suggested that a better way of coming up with original ideas was through free-form linking of random thoughts, concepts and images. For some reason, I suggested that the contents of our mantelpiece or our extensive collection of 'fridge magnets from around the world' could be fertile source material. So ...

.
Half an hour later we were sitting in the kitchen examining a random selection of fridge magnets, arranged in a grid. From a distance the scene could have been mistaken for a tarot reading. Fortunately, our kitchen is small and narrow. Tracy started strongly by coming up with a story about a Florida-based puffin farmer called Elmer who moved to Cyprus to work with sheep; then the tale of a coal miner from West Virginia who was afraid of the dark so he quit, sold up and became a sheep farmer in Austria; then a story about a fat Russian woman who couldn't climb up hills and decided that Louisiana was the place to live. After that we worked vertically along the grid; Elmer was a coal miner from West Virginia who married a Russian woman, their pet names for each other were Buzzy and Pingo. A puffin who was afraid of the dark had one of its' eggs stolen and served up on toast in a Bangkok Cafe. Once upon a time there was a sheep who wanted to build a funicular railway in Louisiana, but was sad because there are no mountains in Louisiana, so he decided to build a mountain with all his sheep friends.

.
I soon realised that this game has virtually infinite possible outcomes. At the last count, we had something like 140 magnets adorning our fridge. The only weakness in the plan is that, because of our tastes in holidays and farm animals, something like 60% of all our fridge magnets relate to Southern American states or sheep. So, stay tuned for November 1st and Stef's tale of Mary the Merino and her noble, and woolly, fight for White Sheep-Black Sheep equality and ovine rights in the humid Deep South in the 1960s

.
'What do they call ewe boy?'
.
'They call me Mister Flossy'
.
… working title? Something like 'In the Sheep of the Night' or 'Mississippi Bleating' or 'The Big Fleecey'

1 comment:

Geek's Girl said...

I think it's great that you're finally going to get down to writing a novel. Personally I think it's easier to recreate (to full scale) the Titanic in toothpicks.

I just hope this doesn't mean that you won't be posting regularly, reading your blog is one a the few highlights of my day.

All this said and meant sincerely, I really do hope you pull it off. Good luck with the project!