Our contemporary versions of those stories has a fella falling into a uranium pit. Or getting infected with gene-altering chemicals. And rising out of that experience with some new knowledge, be it wisdom or some sort of physical know-how.
At any rate, I guess I'm hoping that I arise at this moment as some sort of writing Spiderman . . .
But, first, let me tell you about my forest. I applied for this post-doctoral fellowship, which I currently inhabit, about a year ago with the promise to speculate about research-based creative writing. I'd been working on a novel about the early days of the oil industry for over a year -- I'd even had a short historical story about Ida Tarbell published in a literary magazine.
I was awarded the fellowship about a week after receiving news that my novel deal had fallen through, and, well, best-laid plans go to shit. Still, while it's taken some time to recover, I have had research on my mind, and I have had Petrolia on my mind. As a result, I spent two weeks in March back in Western Pennsylvania, wandering through the libraries in Oil City and Franklin, digging through old manuscripts, scrolling through reams of microfilm.
In the meantime, I have been still hung up on some of the ideas from my most recent post -- from holy moly over a month ago -- about landscape and fiction. I found the lesson in a book about oil, but went on to read Place and Space: The Perspective of Experience by Yi-Fu Tuan. What a book! It really got my literary spidey-senses tingling.
The rub: I have split my attention over the past month between a contemplation of landscape in fiction and the practice of research. Over the next couple of weeks, this blog is going to be a place where I can explore those ideas a bit, see if I've learned anything. In the meantime, I'll continue working daily on Pithole, which should inform both the narrative of landscape and of research, while informing both things.