I started writing a new book about a week and a half ago. I didn’t intend to. What I intended to do was finish “Mountains”, a book I started on the first of this year and which I have largely neglected since then. A week and a half ago, another idea started niggling at me in such a way that I had no choice but to begin work on it. The writing’s going pretty well—about three and a half chapters done, but I have no idea how long the book’s going to be or what its final form will be.
I told my publisher about it the other day and described it in a superficial way. “Is it a children’s book?” she asked. “No,” I told her but I couldn’t tell her any more. It’s an odd sort of piece, a type of work I have never before tried, and I don’t know how to describe it. I don’t even know in what category to put it. Of course, I don’t usually know in what category to put any of my writing. The pieces seem to flop out of any convenient space in which I try to place them and not fit properly into any other.
That makes everything difficult. It’s important to have your work fit in a category, genre, etc. That labels it clearly. People like labels—for everything. That makes everything easier to understand. If something doesn’t have a label it’s too easy for a person dealing with it to become confused. Unfortunately, labels make it much easier to misunderstand something, too. Being too quick to label things such as governments, political parties, social actions, religions and personalities (and I suppose books, too) causes no end of difficulties, not only for that which is erroneously labeled but for society as well. Some classic examples of labels that can be misused are: democratic, socialist, communist, heretic and cult. When one tries to put people into categories, the whole thing degenerates even further.
So I’m not even going to try to put my new book in a category. I’ll wait until it’s finished and then see what suits it, if anything. Until then, I’ll call it a fantasy-science fiction-juvenile-social commentary-spiritual-inspirational-fairy tale-educational-essay adventure fable and let it go at that. That’ll have to do.