Thursday, December 6, 2012

Persistence of Theme and Place and Time

At some point, when I was writing my novels as fast as I could to keep up with the stories rushing through my mind, the last sentence I would ever write came to me. I know what it was long before I ever began to write the book in which it appears. I won't give it away here, but it came to me, fully formed, long before I know how it would fit it.  I have, indeed, not written a sentence of fiction since then. It must be five years or more since I finished. I don't miss it much. I sort of marvel at producing so many stories and so many characters over such a sustained period of time. That said, now and again, I get the idea for a story. This is the way it used to be. When I was still writing Heroes, the idea for Smoke came to me one day. I was ready to abandon Heroes and start Smoke at once. But, of course, I did not do that. I have noticed that whenever an idea comes to me now, it is always something I have done before. The one image that I most often have is of someone walking through the ruins of Detroit looking for something. Then I realize how often I have done that already. Think of City of the Dead and certainly Home.  That said, the idea still comes back to me with some regularity. Lately, I have envisioned a book about a man walking through the mostly empty Detroit and he is either chasing someone in slow motion or being followed. And that's it. That's the whole idea. If I were still writing, perhaps that would have turned into something.  There is one image that has stuck with me for the longest time.  It is Garvin and Hofmann, sitting in an unmarked car watching a house.  Garvin is very nervous about something. He is smoking and fidgeting. Hofmann, as always is stoic and calculating. But I don't know more. I don't know who is in that house or what is going to happen. The truth is, I could have gone on writing Hofmann and Garvin stories for another twenty years. Everything about them is so a part of me that I can picture them and hear their voices. But I am done. I wrote the last sentence I ever would, just as I heard one day when it was not connected to anything.