(Originally Posted Wednesday, October 3, 2007)

(I’m still on vacation, and since I forgot to bring along the disk I burned of appropriate photos and scans, I won’t be posting the latest installment of “Diagramming Babel.” Instead, the following:)

At any given time, I have roughly forty pieces of fiction that I’m working on. Some of them, alas, will never be finished. Others will take years or decades to reach completion. The number of stories seems to baffle some of my writer friends, who suspect (I suspect) that I’m plumping them out with fragments and half-formed thoughts. Not so. The truth is that I start a new story at least once a week. Whenever I get a notion, I’ll write the first page or so — like those term papers back in college whose topic you didn’t decide until the first five hundred words were written — just to see if it has some traction. And these I don’t count until I’m sure they’re alive and I’ve got some idea of what they’re going to be.

Here’s one I began yesterday:


THE WORLD-TREE was cut down long ages ago, and so the Wyrld was separated from all her sisters in the sky. Once upon a time you might climb the trunk of Ongysdrail, filling your canteen with the dew that gathered on its leaves in the morning and living off dried strips of the meat of the giant squirrels which a bold and determined hunting party could corner and kill, and reach Mars in a week or Pluto in a month or the planets attached to distant stars within a lifetime.

No more.

What little remains of that legendary tree was neglected and ignored for nobody knows how many ages until an army of dwarves in the employ of one whose name is now forgotten took adze and ax to it and carved the many-turreted and profusely gabled tavern that is sometimes known as the Inn at the End of the Wyrld and other times as the Stump.

I rode my Harley there last Friday and . . .

So there it is. I haven’t made my mind up about it yet. There’s stuff there. But is there enough stuff to justify the long and arduous process of turning it into a story? Time . . . as our beloved news anchors like to say . . . will tell.


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