I've been stagnating on the idea of writing a book.
Oh, one will come, carried down the slow and casual flow of mind at some point: a rush, a turn from trickle into muddy white waters, scraping the sides of things and pulling them along. That's a given. It'll happen, sooner or later, it's bound to do so, it's geological time at its simplest.
But in the meantime I'd been trapped in the dank and swampy mires of considering a book with the same intensity that I put onto poetry. In poetry, every word matters, every meter, every line break and phrase. A poem is nothing except intention, distilled and aged and kept in a short, concise barrel for ten years before broken open on some special occasion. You sip at a poem; you taste it. You roll the complexities over in your mouth and you savor what the writer is trying, desperately, to bottle.
Not so, necessarily, with a book. Tonight, reading through Kingsolver's "Flight Behavior," I realize that while a book does indeed have a line of beautiful words strung together, like a pool boundary separating the deep from the shallow, a book is in many ways just a bunch of beauty tied off and left to float with the reader, letting you paddle back and forth until you're comfortable and then sudden, goes and plunges you into a paragraph or so of foreshadowing, plot momentum, character development. A book is a lake: lovely to look over but largely empty. True, like any lake, that doesn't mean that swallowing it in won't have some aftereffect, that you won't roll in bed clutching your metaphorical stomach and bemoaning having drunk too deeply - in that, yes, a book is like poetry like growing Schistosoma is like a hangover - but a book has a lot more clear water to imbibe at the front end and in the end that makes it easier to drink.
And somehow, that makes it easier, that idea of writing a book. I'd been thinking of a book like thinking of creating a whole body of distillation and that seems, in some ways, insurmountable - a Sisyphean feat taking at least a few years of fermentation for anything worthwhile, never to mention the years of having mastered the cask - and that idea isn't necessarily right. It's still a process of actually having a story made by digging into the ground and at the end of the day simply the act of actually doing, of making a swimming hole bucket by bucket carried in the dark - but it's doable. It's a task, but not an impossible one.
And in that, the water nudges, and I move on.