I have written over two hundred novels. Two hundred and five, or six. It always startles me, the number.
When I was young and dreaming, living in the museums of books we mistreat, in libraries, both there and in my imagining, I dreamed a thing that escaped my dreams. An amphibian idea. For a year of my young life I followed it, for a mad year, a brilliant year, catching it, at last, between leaves of a book, my own, which was placed in the museums of books, for others to mistreat.
An idea begins … as a spot on water. A dark spot. If it is not washed, by a wave, away, if it does not simply change into nothing, then when the tide stands back at last, when you have done with waiting, it remains. A glistening animal. A real thing, born of nothing, and yours—to capture, if you can.
I have always dreamed so easily. In a million nights of life, there have been a million dreams. But ideas… There has been only one.
I have waited by the side of water, forever. I have watched, these nights of life, for the dark spot to reappear. I have seen the deceiving shadows of gulls, above, and the roaming fish below. And when the waters retire, finally, when I am half mad of waiting … there is nothing. There is only sand.
This is my secret. It is the secret of many. One in a million, perhaps, one in so very few, is more fortunate. Such a one will sit by the sliding water again and again, and each time will see first the spot, then the animal. Will reach for the last with that shaking, trepid reach. Will hold it. What life must be for such a one… It is beyond my imagining.
I have written over two hundred books. But really, I have written only one.
Perhaps one is all one needs.
Rolli’s latest book is The Sea-Wave.
Buy him a coffee.