Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Libraries of Unwritten Books

I recently read a book called The Library of the Unwritten, by A.J. Hackwith. Not surprisingly, the book is about a library full of books that have not been written. Some of these books can't be written because their authors have died, while other books have authors who haven't been inspired enough to write them yet. Perhaps it's fitting that the library is located in Hell (although the library is considered neutral territory), as not being able to finish one's books would probably feel like a punishment for many writers.

One thing that felt strange about this library to me was that the books were all stored in a fixed form, though their characters could escape and change. For me, unfinished books are constantly in flux. I may imagine some scenes vividly, but they often change as I try to capture them on the screen. For every scene like that, there are many more that I won't know about until I write it. Even then, a book may become completely transformed from draft to draft, like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. For me, a book isn't fixed until it's published--though sometimes I would still like to revise books I released years ago.

How do you feel about unwritten books? Do you think of them in finished or unfinished form? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

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