In the spring and summer of 1993, while I worked and worried obsessively at a novel-length story idea, I also listened obsessively to two recordings: Beaster by Sugar, and Ingenue by K.D. Lang. And I really do mean obsessive: Beaster came out on a two-sided cassette, so I kept it going as a loop while I drove back and forth between home and Shore. Believe it or not, the combination made sense as background music for my thoughts at the time.
I brought the novel along as far as I could, but I could see it was not yet ready for prime time, and the manuscripts went into a carton.
Race ahead to last week, when the idea once more started gnawing at the back of my skull. The gnawing grew so insistent that I started writing things out. As the idea returned, so did the music, and I’m once again listening to Ingenue and Beaster on a heavy basis.
Stranger still, I’m re-experiencing some of the inchoate emotions that accompanied the work. I’m not entirely comfortable with this — if I bring it to a proper conclusion, the novel will be one of the least comforting stories ever written — but there it is.
I’m sure Oliver Sacks would have something to say about this.