May 3, 2011 § Leave a comment
I was thinking about potential story ideas today.
The stories that have always worked for me – at least, in my opinion – are stories with a reasonably ridiculous theme. I wrote one a little while back about a guy who is being harrassed by his angry, snobbish landlord for having pets in the house, and as she wanders through the corridors she comes across more exotic pets at every turn until finally falling down an immense hole to become lunch for a burrowing dinosaur of sorts. I once gained entry into a published book of poetry with a lengthy (mine was by far the longest poem in the collection, clocking in at nine pages) Seuss-style missive about a chicken that went in search of a fried-chicken factory and took her bloody revenge.
These are the stories and writings I enjoy reading back to myself from time to time, when I am procrastinating and pretending that reading my own work somehow counts as “hours”.
Why then, do I feel a constant urge to write something “literary”? I love reading literary books – I’m only a cardigan away from being a fully fledged Jonathan Safran Foer fan club member, or that of his wife Nicole Krauss, I devour Lethem, DeLillo, Nabokov, Fowles, Banks and anything and everything McSweeneys put their name to. Yet my forte seems to be in the silly and irreverent. This is like yearning to cook like a Masterchef but finding your most delicious dish is a cheese sandwich.
In any event, I was thinking about story ideas and started to think about a guy who was sitting on a beach (it’s amazing how many of my story ideas start with a guy sitting on a beach, considering not one story I have ever written has started that way), considering ways in which he could fake his death. I wasn’t sure why he wanted to fake his death. At first I thought he would be the only character, but every bit of prose that occurred to me was as droll as most of the “literary” threads I’ve attempted. So I started him talking to someone else (another guy, but I’m not sure who, perhaps a fellow, lonesome beach bum).
This guy began talking him out of faking his life. He insisted that designing an illusory ending was such a waste of spirit and creative ability as to be almost criminal. If this sad sack character was enduring such a miserable life (I, like his beach bum interlocutor, simply assumed that if he wanted to fake his death that his life couldn’t have been all box seats at the grand final and supermodels and coke every night), he had a grander, more enlightening option available to him – he could fake his own life.
This seems very interesting to me, now I just have to work out how to walk the line between what I know (farcical, dad-jokey) and what I aspire to (beautifully written, intelligent, thoughtful). I think it’s a cool idea though.