I lost a novel. Well, let’s say I lost the beginning of a novel. I started it about 18 months ago, and worked on it at night in bed before going to sleep. I’ve written several stories and plenty of private journal entries that way.
I used to write my journal in steno notebooks. Then I started typing it directly into a word processor. Now, after I started using a BlackBerry, I compose my entries in the BlackBerry MemoPad. I copy and paste them (usually two or three weeks’ worth of entries) into my email and send them to myself. When I get my email on my laptop, I copy and paste the journal entries into the main journal file in my word processor.
I find that writing fiction in longhand, though, works better for me than typing. Writing with a pen puts me closer to the subject somehow. And it also adds another dimension to the composition procedure because all the handwriting has to be transcribed. When I do that, I’m forced into editing and improving the original version. Any time I have a chance to improve something I’ve written is time well spent.
Back to my missing novel. It’s a story about a guy at work in an office. The guy is not me, but is someone I could know. I had previously never considered writing anything about events taking place in an office during working hours. I don’t know about you, but I don’t much enjoy talking (or writing) about stuff that happens where I work. I live through it each day and am glad to leave it at the end of each day. Talking about it (or writing about it) is like living it all over again. Once is enough. But I’ve read several articles in recent years about the dearth of fiction whose action takes place in the workplace. I reconsidered the possibilities and decided that there was some opportunity for breaking new ground.
There are things that happen while I’m working that are exemplary of life on a higher level. Lessons of life and humanity are learned that I might not want to discuss specifically but that can be used as a basis for a larger story. Work involves interactions between people and the playing out of scenarios where people deal with humorous, sad, and frightening events. Just like in real life outside the workplace.
At any rate, my lost novel is an attempt to delve into the issues that one guy deals with while making his way through life in the offices of a large company. I think I had a pretty good start. But now it’s lost and I don’t know where it is. Don’t worry – I don’t mention you or anything you have ever done or said. No one I know is in this story. Just people I think I could know. Or think I could have known, since the novel is lost and I have no idea where it is.
Not that this situation is comparable to Ernest Hemingway’s loss of his collection of writings in a suitcase that his wife mistakenly left behind in a train station. I’m talking about perhaps 20 or 30 handwritten pages of first draft stuff. Hemingway’s stories and vignettes were finished and were perhaps ready for publication. Still, it’s aggravating to have spent hours on a project only to have it disappear without a trace.
Perhaps it will turn up one of these days. I just hope that it’s not so far into the future so that I will be at a complete loss when I reread it as to what I was thinking and what I might have had in mind for the protagonist.
It must be in this house. I just can’t imagine where.