HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO MAKE A BOOK?
"I can never recall how many weeks or months I spend on false starts before I find one story. Then there are the almost stories, the ones that were going well until they were interrupted for the lack of some small idea, a new twist, or something to get them going again. Such was the case with The Gnats of Knotty Pine, a story about the so-called sport of hunting taken from the animal's point of view. The story starts the day before hunting season. As the animals gather for a meeting, they hope to outwit the men with guns and save their skins. But after a great deal of talk and not one practical suggestion, the meeting ends in silence. I did no better than the animals, and Gnats ended up on the shelf with the other almost-stories. Years later, while I was mowing the lawn one evening, swarms of buzzing gnats came at me from out of the grass; they seemed to have a plan of attack, always going for my eyes and ears. Fighting them off and pushing the mower at the same time was impossible, and I soon fled the scene. But, that relentless, overwhelming gnat attack was just what my hunting story needed. An all out attack by a few billion buzzing gnats
|would be a mind-boggling to hunters and send them fleeing from the forest in a frenzy. A very simple solution, but hard to illustrate: it called for dotting in gnats by the thousands, to look like billions, with a find pen point. I wanted to make sure I had dotted in so many that none of my literal minded young readers could count the gnats when the story says, "Out of the grass swarmed great clouds of gnats! Billions of them!"