Poetry Meets Prose in a Dark Alley
If writing poems is a quick and dirty high, fiction is the unshakeable monkey on your back. Prose never appealed to me seriously until a few years ago. Before then, I couldn’t find a way into a narrative that felt authentic. Poetry you can fall into through so many different windows or doors. You only need one metaphor, one image, one sound to move you forward. With fiction, there are so many elements that need to come together all at once (plot, character, setting, voice). And it all has to be driven by a unifying theme and message that becomes an obsession.
The past year of work on The New Eden Chronicles has been surprisingly exhilarating. I’d been thinking about the story for a few years and feeling it every day in the small conservative town where I live. Feeling the land and it’s slow destruction, feeling the cult-like grip of the religious right that is so ingrained here, feeling the struggles of new immigrants in this often intolerant place.
All of that found it’s way into the story and grew into characters who seem real to me now. The early morning writing was hard work, but the plot seemed to unfold itself without much fuss. The fun part was watching how these characters reacted. Now it’s time for revisions. Lots and lots of revisions. And again, I think poetry is easier in this regard, simply because of the sheer length of a novel. There’s no quick fix, no easy buzz.
But that’s okay because I expect the pay off to be equal to the effort. And I can always squeeze out a poem in between chapters.