Tonight I had a really good idea for a techno-thriller. A really sweet idea. A tantalizing idea. It would make a good movie as well; the idea could be treated at varying depths. The idea itself is not important right now though, the problem is it’s crowding my other work out of my head. You know how when a toddler sees something they want they forget they’re even holding something else? Whatever had been in their hand falls to the floor unnoticed. My idea is like the new toy, shiny and exciting, and I can’t stop playing with it.
Maybe that’s what I’ll write in November. I was going to write My Life: An Autobiography (revised edition) but this new idea is better. I really, really need to get a good solid draft of what I’m working on now done before November, no matter what I write about then. If history is any guide, my November novel becomes my next year’s project.
The Fish was supposed to be a vehicle for me to pack up a bunch of the story fragments flying around in my head and scribbled on bar napkins. At first each chapter was going to have one of these little story snippets, either as a song lyric, a report on the radio, or as an argument at a bus stop. The it was most chapters, then the occasional chapter. It’s just not working as well as I thought it would. The main story is starting to outgrow all those little ideas, turning them into distractions from the flow of the narrative. I need Kilgore Trout.
Kilgore Trout is perhaps the most prolific fictitious writer ever. For every novel Vonnegut wrote, Trout wrote piles. (I use the past tense perhaps prematurely, but if you read Timequake, it comes off a lot like a retirement speech.) Trout allowed Vonnegut to make use of the dozens of ideas he had that he simply did not have time to develop fully. Vonnegut could say “Trout had written a story about a race of beings…” and his little distracting idea could rest in peace. I need someone like that. Someone who can let my fragments be fragments.