Some time ago, I started writing a short story, which at that point was titled “The Lake in the Library”. In its nebulous first lines, it featured a librarian, a library, and a lake in that library. Oh, and a lake monster of some sort.
Later, I had more ideas for the story, and a theme came to me like a bolt from the blue. I excised the lake and the lake monster, not without regret. (There’s no guarantee they won’t reappear; the story is very dreamy, in the literal sense of the word.)
The new story, on its surface, features a library full of books that are quietly erasing themselves, and a set of young people—who might actually all be the same person—re-writing the stories, or perhaps overwriting them is a better way to put it. The title changed to “Palimpsests”, and I determined that there would be a selection of novels that were featured as having portions re-written by the mysterious child|ren.
One of the books I selected, a personal favourite, was Stations of the Tide by Michael Swanwick. There’s a chapter in it called “Who is the Black Beast?” and I decided that the heart of that chapter would be the portion re-written in “Palimpsests”.
I read and re-read “Who is the Black Beast?”, for research, and actually ended up re-reading Stations of the Tide for the fifth or tenth time in the process. As I said, it’s a favourite.
At one point, I tweeted that I was reading the chapter as research, and, helpfully, Michael Swanwick responded.
And so I checked out the library catalogue, only to find out that Crow is not the local holdings. I moved on. “Palimpsests” was eclipsed by a new, different short story project.
But then, recently, as I was finishing up the other short story’s first draft, I decided to see if the local libraries had any Ted Hughes collections. And, long story short:
So now I’ve got some more reading to do, as I continue to work on “Palimpsests”. (Which, I might as well tell you now, is currently titled “Dried Flowers”, but I’m not entirely convinced that’s the right title either.)