It's "Olive Kitteridge," the Pulitzer Prize winning "novel," by Elizabeth Strout, a collection of thirteen haunting short stories centering on the eponymous heroine. I'm not the first to be reminded of Sherwood Anderson's hypnotic "Winesburg, Ohio." So now I'm thinking about fiction, and if it's not impossible for me to tackle, after all.
Through a lifetime of writing features and anthology slices-of-life, I've grown accustomed to telling a story in a thousand to two thousand words. Until I read "Olive Kitteridge", writing a novel seemed an impossible task. It would require me to learn a whole new literary form, and I'm not certain that's where I want to invest my remaining days and weeks.
In the past three years I've written around fifty inspirational non-fiction stories. About half have been published in anthologies. Now I'm consumed with a major WHAT IF.
What if I devoted an equal amount of energy in telling not-so-true stories that involved a place, a person, an idea or philosophy? Wouldn't this be fiction? Couldn't I do it?
What if tonight, after I finish another chapter of Jerome Charyn's "The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson," I drowse off to dream about a theme for this possible work? What if one appears? What if tomorrow I begin my Once Upon a Time, at long last?
Today I wrote a review of an historical novel written by an acquaintance in my community. How I envied her perseverance in researching, plotting and actually writing this book. I know I wouldn't have the patience. But, still....what if??
This afternoon I washed the mud off the floors in the hallway and in the process I may also have cleaned up my muddled mind. Hmmmmm.
Football if often
11 hours ago