Did you ever want to write something…just because? Wasn’t sure what you were doing of if it would make sense or (better still) if it would sell? Had the gut feeling (or maybe that tingling in the back of your neck) that it was something that you HAD to write.

Happened to me.

A while back, I came up with an intriguing notion to write the fictional biography of a writer named H.B. Berlow. It sounded weird but mildly intriguing. I figured there were all kinds of characters in literature and there might actually be a person currently or previously living that had the same name as a fictional character. What if Holden Caulfield or Scarlett O’Hara or Leopold Bloom or Elizabeth Bennet are living somewhere in Illinois or Louisiana or Utah or Rhode Island. Fictional character’s names are not unique, despite what we may think.

Then, I read an article in Writer’s Digest that referenced metafiction and I looked up the meaning (from Wikipedia: “…a literary device used to self-consciously and systematically draw attention to a work’s status as an artifact) and realized that I was on to something. I was going to confuse people into believing that this “fictional” biography was nothing more than a roman a clef cleverly disguised.

As I began, it started to get, well, out of hand. The whimsical side of me then turned it into the fictional biography of a mid-century Polish poet who was a survivor of the Holocaust. On top of that, I created an early 20th century writer who was writing a fictional biography of a writer from the late 20th century. Strangely enough, all these characters had the same initials as…you guessed it…me.

Okay, so I’m working on a dark comic crime caper with my critique group but I break out into this seriously over-the-top piece like characters break into song from a 1940’s MGM musical. I enjoy writing crime fiction; it’s my bread and butter. However, there is something strongly fascinating about this work because it challenges a reader’s notion of the intention of the writer, the purpose and reason for the existence of the book, and whether the writer can be trusted with this abstract thing called the Truth.

The first draft is done. It’s really a novella given the word count. I’m putting it aside. For now. It was an impulse that needed venting. However, the themes that have emerged from writing it have given me pause to consider what it is I do as a writer and to take greater care to present my best work possible.

Oh, and the title of this work is — The Novel Titled “This is Not a Novel”. Go figure.


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