a novel about hundreds of people?


Dusk. Some voices in the valley. Sudden laughter.

A pale, pale blue sky of thin cloud. No one in sight but I can still hear voices.

I'm feeling more content than for a day or two - having just decided to let go of my pasts and to begin something more inspiring...

Nine people emerge from the valley, three women and six men - are they my muses, though they do not know it? (and why so many men - not usual for a picnic?)

A jumbo flies over very noisily - it's climbing due east and disappears into the haze... with four or five hundred more muses on board... ?

Not as silly as it sounds - why not a novel, or a movie, about hundreds of people - and thus with hundreds of inspirations? ...to write of only a few people may be what's so uninspiring (or restrictive) about novels? (Too few for social change?)

Too dark to see what I'm writing.

As I walked back I thought of writing about everyone in a village or a small community (like William Faulkner's imaginary county?), at least as presences essential to the story,

or a rewriting of many people from my pasts, reformed and renamed,

or the traditional 'small incident' (such as Henry James based each novel on) expanded to being a large one (or as in John Hersey's Hiroshima - many people's memory of a 'critical incident' - how did each suffer, and react, as a way of describing a terrible whole?)...

...and then I realised that the traditional form for writing about many people is not a novel but a history. So why not imagine one, and write it?...

...at that point my attention was taken by the movements of a woman on the other platform - she moved continuously - like a dancer - while the man she sat with was immobile... he opened a newspaper and she bent her head to look at it with him, and perhaps to rest her head on his shoulder for a second or two... I imagined that she is perhaps too good for him, or that she is over-adapting to him, ond perhaps he wishes he was not so static - but he cannot move beautifully as she does... nor can I...

...and now I realise that this little piece of writing has lifted me out of a low... a good enough reason to pursue the idea? Yes, why not?