For those wondering where all the blogs have gone – I was on a once/week or better output for over a year – I’ve been distracted (this is not newsworthy). Lately, the particular distraction has been my novel (this, maybe, is).
Yes, like every 3rd human on planet earth, I’m writing a book. And one not all that creative, I suppose, since it’s basically “Star Trek” but with minimized people in a tiny ship inside a human body.
Entitled “The Journals of the Micro Project,” I started writing the book waay back during my first year of med school to help me survive…med school. Anatomy and physiology, in particular. Then I just kept going, as I kept taking more classes. Then I started writing the story to help me make sense of my feelings about religion and international politics (since we were living in Israel), how the American social order relates to dreamers and idiosyncratic personalities…and even how I feel about the city of Jerusalem. Yeah, that all got in there. Possibly some funniness and mildly-believable sexual tension stuff too.
I knew about the likes of “Inner Space” when I started my story. But since I was using it to help myself understand and remember facts about medical science, I didn’t care about any sort of “hook” or “unique voice” or “poetic angle” so important to selling fiction. I wrote it for me…not to foist on the rest of the world.
Then I started hearing the cha-CHING of literary greatness when I learned that the average novel makes an author less than $5000. I figured ‘Daaang, I gotta get me some o dat action!” Immediately, I began working on crafting a novel that everyone would like to read and pay, oh, 2-3 bucks for. By ‘everyone’, I suppose I’m referring to Jr. High super-dorks with a left brain so big and a right brain so atrophied they walk in left-leaning circular arcs all day. But so be it! Friends are friends, even if they eat Captain Trilithium for breakfast.
Suddenly, things like verbs, quotation marks, PLOT, coherence and originality actually mattered. Whoah. Pressure. So, I put a lot of work into all the mechanic stuff during residency, usually at the Bayview Deli in downtown Olympia. The manager there gave me permission to hole up and write all day. Sitting in that cafe, looking through giant bay windows onto Puget Sound, studying its many moods – from glistening to tumultuous, from deathly still to rollicking and granular, from green to blue to silver to explosions of orange and red and purple – remains one of my life’s favorite memories. And that 2nd floor of the Bayview Deli remains one of my favorite places…making a respectable run at the Armenian Tavern in the Old City of Jerusalem.
As I sat there, pondering what kind of Eternal Being could possibly drum up the idea of a vision like the Sound, the distant snow-capped Olympic mountains and all the glorious splendor of trees, hills, clouds and wind that make up the southern edge of Budd Bay, I figured I was writing a freaking MASTERPIECE. Move over, Bill’s Faulkner and Shakespere. Make room for the New Guy. Who wouldn’t write a masterpiece when surrounded by such divine poetry?
But, like a tire iron to the face, I learned only recently about a similar story written by Isaac Asimov, which was based on a movie screenplay. I guess it was written in the ’50’s – when all anyone cared about were those evil Commies – but aside from that political angle, my story apparently bears many similarities (I am mortally afraid to read his book, lest I find that all my plot ideas have been used up). So, turns out that more than one person on the planet has, at one time or another, imagined what it might be like to travel around inside the human body.
If you want my opinion, he’s a damn inconsiderate un-original jerk, Asimov. Depending on your definition of “time”, Asimov pretty much totally ripped off my idea and then went back to the 1950’s and wrote the killer app (we’re talking sci-fi here…it’s an arguable point). And really, how many ideas did that guy use up on his stuff, anyway? Couldn’t he have left at least a science fiction crumb for anyone else?
Oh well. By the time I learned about the Asimov thing, I was too far in to quit. So, tired drivel though it likely will turn out to be, I’ve been putting some of the final touches on the book. All 150,000 words of it. It’s all I do with my spare time. I get home from work, play with kids, help with the dinner/bed axis, try to give eye-contact to anyone who is talking, chill in front of the T.V. for a bit, then I attack the book till 12 or 1 every night, even when I have to be up at 0630. The result? A sadly neglected blog, baggy eyes, and a book that now needs professional help (arguably, like its author). Once off to a good editor (bro, you’re up!), I suppose I’ll get back to some regular blogging.
But until then, dear SW101 nation, bear with me as I pursue this 8-going-on-9-year exercise in being told, “Don’t give up the stethescope, Dr. Delusion”.