Saturday, July 7, 2007

Imaginary Mileage

Maybe you wonder why I link to something called "Distances Between Cities."

Big smile from me at this point, imagining you wondering.

Well, it could be because I love to go to that site and find out how far it is between, say, Merriam and Chanute. Or Kansas City and Paris.

That's part of it. But the deeper reason is that it reminds me of two books I read years ago that rocked my staid little fictional world. The first was Italo Calvino's novel, INVISIBLE CITIES, and the second was Donald Barthelme's book of short stories, OVERNIGHT TO MANY DISTANT CITIES.

Do you not love those titles, especially the last one?

I love love love those titles, and I loved the books which were like no other books I'd ever read before--so loose, so fluid, so wildly creative, and unexpected, and liberating for author and reader, alike, especially the Calvino, if I recall correctly. Especially the Calvino, which is a tiny book that is a conversation between Marco Polo and Kubla Khan, with Marco telling stories about where he's been, only you can't be sure that any of it is true. . .

I think that's when I "got" it. . .hey, it's fiction, folks. It's fiction, Nancy. FICTION. You can do anything you want to do. You can tell many different truths in many different ways. You can even tell lies for fun and profit (the title of a book by Lawrence Block) if you want to, if you're lucky.

I haven't read either book again, because I want to remember the shock of the new that they gave me. It was electrifying, which means it gave me power, right?

What's the distance between invisible cities?

It's however far we can travel in our imaginations, I suspect.

I wonder, to what extraordinary distance can I go on this ordinary Saturday? Will I let my writing wander as far away from home as it wants to go?

And how far did you travel last night, and what tales did you bring back to tell us, some of them even true? :)

Good morning, by the way. There's coffee on the sideboard, and sweet rolls on the table, so help yourselves. And if you just feel like sitting in a corner and reading, well, that's fine, too.


Nancy P said...

Did you find your way down here? I knew you could follow the clues.

Man, have I traveled miles in my dreams this week. Weird stuff. The Amish appeared, as polygamists. I don't think they'd approve. :)

FARfetched said...


I've done a fair amount of traveling myself this week… in time. Speaking of time, that's how you order stuff in Blogger. There's a "Post Options" link at the bottom of your edit window; click that and it lets you set a date and time for that post.

I dedicated June 2005 to meta-topics on my blog, since I didn't post anything that month. So if there's anything in general that I want to add, I just pick a date in June 2005 for that post.

Nancy P said...

far, you are a fount of helpfulness to me today, truly, and I thank you.

May I ask. . .what do you mean by. . . traveling in time this week?

I'm off to the market with my mom. Back soon.

Catharine said...

Hi Nancy & FARfetched (using the E4T convention):

FF showed me how to post as katiebird at his place. But that doesn't seem to work here. So, I'm still NOT katiebird.


Nancy P said...

You'll always be katiebird to some of us. :)

With so many of us who "know" each other having blogs, it's kind of like a village with a row of cafes that we wander in and out of, isn't it?

kb, there was almost nothing at the Merriam market this morning. We went, we saw pitiful piles of not-much, we came home.I wonder if that late frost killed a lot of early fruits and vegetables around here. Have you been to the OP market?

Family Man said...

Hi Nancy, FAR and KB.

We're finally getting rain down here and it's sorely needed. This is turning into a perfect slack day. Everything is done in the house and I'm not going outside. So my biggest decisions is whether to nod off at the computer, or stretch out on the couch and nap. :)

Catharine said...

The OP Market! I was just out doing errands and meant to stop by!! But, I was so hot, I totally forgot in my rush to get home to air-conditioning.

But, judging by our berries and fruit trees -- I'm guessing this is a bad year for fruit all around the area.

It does seem like a row of cafes -- each with their own sorts of discussions. I like it.

-katiebird (so, there blogger)

Nancy P said...

Ah, family man. . .enjoy.

Catharine said...

FamilyMan, I wondered how I missed you, but I see we were on at the same time.

I think I'll set up a laptop and nod off at the computer while I'm stretched out on the couch. That'll be the most comfortable.


Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Today at the market: blueberries. Lots and lots. They were $9.98 a quart. But if you bought one pint, you got two free.

Ah. So math at the grocery. Available blueberries at 9.98, divided by however many pints there are in a quart, multiplied by three times 4.99 a pint (I guess) minus two times 4.99, then add to the equation that there are only two of us, so how many blueberries can two people eat before they get mushy (the blueberries, not the people) even if they are fairly inexpensive? (The blueberries, not the people.)

Or are they inexpesive? Maybe it's outrageous, but the only way to get blueberries.

I wish this blog thing included blueberry sharing.

Nancy P said...

Since you're the one with the blueberries, ryan, I'm totally with you on the sharing thing. :)

Back to rewrite Chapter One AGAIN. But there's hope. A writer friend gave me an idea today that may turn the tide. The tide sooo needs turning.

FARfetched said...

Hey Nancy, my travels took me to somewhere around 2027, where I was (anonymously) distributing seditious material about the New Dixie government. They weren't too happy about it....

Nancy P said...

Ooo, far, that sounds great!

My travels took me tonight to experimenting with a prologue, written in 1st person, then in 3rd person, and then I tried it in 3rd person, present tense. . .in a book where all the rest is in past tense. And I think this seditious idea has rescued my book by helping me find the heart of it.

I'm aware that some people hate prologues and won't read them, but I don't care. It's not their book, lol.

AndiF said...

I always read prologues (and epilogues for that matter) but I do find some of them feel bolted on. The prologues that usually strike me as the most organic are doing something (ultimately) revealing about a character rather than something about cause and effect for the plot.

Catharine said...

I think epilogues feel more tacked on than prologues.

I loved the way you (Nancy) wrapped up The Virgin without resorting to an epilogue. It felt like a part of the book.

I think prologues can be a good way to set up both plot and characters.

And I have absolute faith that anything pleasing to you in your story will please me when I get to read it.


Nancy P said...

Thanks, guys. That's actually not only encouraging, but also helpful to read your "takes" on prologues and epilogues. I will apply the "bolted on" standard for juding my own, eventually.

FARfetched said...

A well-written prologue can set the stage for the rest of the story, or provide any necessary backstory without being too obtrusive. Epilogues... good for tying up loose ends, if such would have been disruptive in the main story, or just to show how the events of the story resonate in the characters' future.

All IMO, naturally.

Glad I was able to help with the sedition… watch for the thought police though!