My novella Ouroboros (still working on it) sprang from a short story I had written, which sprang from some notes I had made for it more than a decade ago. I wrote the short story for a contest and submitted last fall (and learned last week that I didn’t win or rank), but the story’s premise wouldn’t leave me. I began to think about how the story would take place in the real world. The more I considered this, the more I saw that I had a novel, or at least a novella, on my hands.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned here that the writing of Ouroboros was unprecedentedly swift; I finished the first draft in two and a half (pre-quarantine) months, sometimes writing the whole day long on weekends. The more I wrote, the more story details and subplots and characterizations and meta derring-do came to me. (What would be the plural of “derring-do”?)

Ouroboros is now with a trusted reader, and when I have his responses and have incorporated them as well as I can, I think I will have a novel (it’s nearly 48,000 words, so by some definitions it’s a novel rather than a novella), that I can begin shopping around.

I feared, when I reached this point, that I would descend into a slough of despond because I wouldn’t have some great subject to drive my imagination. I had this happen when I had finished One-Match Fire (which is in submission at various places), but that was brief, for the short story that eventually became Ouroboros took over.

And now a story idea I’m calling Omphalos is pushing itself into my creative consciousness. (The title came to me from reading Fowles’ novel The French Lieutenant’s Woman, though the word’s rippling meanings seem to further support my story idea and dovetail well.) It will be a sequel to Ouroboros (or if some agent or publisher thinks Ouroboros is too short, the second part of it). The same characters will be in play (though I’m adding one foul-mouthed tweener), and they’ll mostly be dealing with the consequences of what happened (or what seemed to happen) in Ouroboros.

And just as with Ouroboros, thoughts and ideas and plot resolutions and characterizations and meta derring-do are rushing into my head for Omphalos. Once again, the (first-draft) writing is coming to me easily, and while the meta aspects of the tale are complex and need conscious awareness and adherence, I’m not slowing down or stalling. I began actual writing (rather than note compiling) of Omphalos over this last weekend, and I got down nearly 3,000 words, which is really very good for my normal pace. At this point I’m not stumbling about, wondering where the plot is or should be going. And since I know the characters pretty well already, I know how they should behave.


“Omphalos” is the Greek word for navel, as in belly button, and there will be a lot of navel-gazing in the story. (“Omphaloskepsis” is an actual word meaning navel-gazing.) But the word has had other uses and “meanings” through the centuries, and I intend to exploit those as well as I can or need in my story. Also, I like the repetition of relatively obscure “O” words as titles for these two works. (I suppose if I come up with a third work, I’ll need to find a third obscure “O” word title.)

Explore posts in the same categories: Omphalos, Ouroboros

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