Wednesday, October 3, 2007


(I'm still on vacation, and since I forgot to bring along the disk I burned of appropriate photos and scans, I won't be posting the latest installment of "Diagramming Babel." Instead, the following:)

At any given time, I have roughly forty pieces of fiction that I'm working on. Some of them, alas, will never be finished. Others will take years or decades to reach completion. The number of stories seems to baffle some of my writer friends, who suspect (I suspect) that I'm plumping them out with fragments and half-formed thoughts. Not so. The truth is that I start a new story at least once a week. Whenever I get a notion, I'll write the first page or so -- like those term papers back in college whose topic you didn't decide until the first five hundred words were written -- just to see if it has some traction. And these I don't count until I'm sure they're alive and I've got some idea of what they're going to be.

Here's one I began yesterday:


THE WORLD-TREE was cut down long ages ago, and so the Wyrld was separated from all her sisters in the sky. Once upon a time you might climb the trunk of Ongysdrail, filling your canteen with the dew that gathered on its leaves in the morning and living off dried strips of the meat of the giant squirrels which a bold and determined hunting party could corner and kill, and reach Mars in a week or Pluto in a month or the planets attached to distant stars within a lifetime.

No more.

What little remains of that legendary tree was neglected and ignored for nobody knows how many ages until an army of dwarves in the employ of one whose name is now forgotten took adze and ax to it and carved the many-turreted and profusely gabled tavern that is sometimes known as the Inn at the End of the Wyrld and other times as the Stump.

I rode my Harley there last Friday and . . .

So there it is. I haven't made my mind up about it yet. There's stuff there. But is there enough stuff to justify the long and arduous process of turning it into a story? Time . . . as our beloved news anchors like to say . . . will tell.


Thamuhacha said...

At the risk of being a bit prosaic and glossing over the idea of reinventing the mythology of Yggdrasil: I love the idea of a story set entirely on a tree.

I'm not a writer, but I like playing with story ideas so I have about 15 different "things" in various stages on my hard drive. I just keep forgetting that they are there.

TN-Tanuki said...

Yeah, man, go with it! What happens next? Who does he meet at the Stump? Why? Who or what is our biker? Is he/she on vacation? A mission? Jeez, my mind is pinging now with what ifs! You'd better finish that story or else! (What you ask? Well, I'll cry or something. That'll show you!)

Michael Swanwick said...

Welcome to my world! I am not the master of my hindbrain. I have learned somehow how to ride this horse, but I cannot tell it where to go.

I thought briefly that it might be Crow on the bike, but when last seen he'd broken up with Annie and she was in Elizabethan England promoting chastity as a universal way of life. Well . . . dictating, is more like it.

You're right, though, that the identity of the rider is central to the enterprise. I was thinking he was male, but I've gotta say your notion of her being female appeals to me. A redhead of course. "Red hair and black leather, my favorite color scheme." Yes, right, of course. It's got to be Red Molly.

This posting is a bit of a dog's breakfast, but welcome to my world. It's full of glimpses and fragments like that. Cool stuff, heroes without quests, worlds without challenges, waterfalls without barrels. But they all sit patiently and wait, and every now and then the thing they need comes along and I finish the story. Sometimes in a day.

So. I'll write this one as soon as I can. Might be tomorrow. Might be next year. Might be never. But give me enough slack and it'll get done, I promise.