My House Is Lousy With Amputated Novel Bits

I can’t walk six step across a room in my house without tripping over the bloody stumps of amputated novel bits. They scatter across the floor, hide in corners, collect under toyboxes and under beds.

Some of the bits have joined with others, grafted themselves together – ragged flesh to ragged flesh and sewn tightly with good, strong thread. They are agile creatures, my little homonculi made of paper and letters and ink. They are crafty and sneaky and full of juice. They vie for my attention, whisper compliments from their dusty shadows, try to turn my gaze from the novel on my computer, or the novel in my notebook, or the novel in my head.

“Why, Kelly Barnhill,” they croon. “Aren’t you looking lovely today!”

This is a lie. Today I am the opposite of lovely. Today I am pale skin, wild hair, darkened eyes. But they say lovely, and for a moment, in my imagination, lovely persists.

“Thank you,” I say.

“We have some thoughts,” they say, “about your current project. We have some ….. concerns. Why don’t you open a new document, and we can work it through.”

They do not belong. They do not fit. And oh! How they want to!

There is no home for these bits, alas. And there is nothing I can do. In deference to their plight, though, I will allow one of them to live here, on this blog. This was taken from JACK and it was originally penned by one of the characters in JACK- one Clive Fitzpatrick. I love Clive so very much, and I want him to have his own book someday. Or maybe, I’ll collect his writings and publish it under his name. In any case, here is a bit from one of his stories, from his imaginary book Tales from Nowhere – or Everywhere:

“You are not who you think you are,” the old man said.

“Is anyone?” the boy asked.

The man thought on this. At their feet, three small field mice sniffed at the embers of the dying fire, looking for scraps. The old man reached down and picked one up by his tail. He showed it to the boy. “What is this?” he asked.

“A mouse.”

“If it could think, if it had the concept of Self that you or I have, what form would it think it was?”

“A mouse, of course.”

“And it would be wrong. It is not a mouse. It is lunch.” The old man threw the mouse into the air and caught it in his mouth. He bit down with a grin.

The boy looked down at his shoes and was silent for a while. “So I’m the mouse,” the boy finally said.

“No,” the old man said gulping down his lunch and wiping his chin. “But like the mouse, you are similarly misinformed about your role in this story. If you intend to survive to the end, might I suggest that you attempt to learn something.”

Tales from Nowhere (or Everywhere), by Clive Fitzpatrick


4 thoughts on “My House Is Lousy With Amputated Novel Bits

    • Well, that IS a coincidence because I am terribly interested in reading that book of yours while you are reading my crooked little book. Maybe you should send it to me when you’re done. If you feel like it (which you may not).

  1. I like the Amputated Novel Bits. Perhaps ANB should be an accepted unit of measure, as in “My editor keeps yelling at me, but I can’t get my ANB count any higher than 22%.”

    My issue is I keep writing these lovely juicy little scenes for a novel I supposedly finished. I don’t know whether to try and shoe-horn them in, or prune them like excess fruit on a vine.

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