Have you ever heard writers or book reviewers say a book is big? I don't think I ever understood, exactly, what that meant.
Which isn't to say I thought it was a reference to page length or weight. I also knew the terms vast and sweeping weren't meant to describe books that span multiple time periods and continents like the Danielle Steele novels I devoured as a teenager.
Maybe (just so you don't think I spend all my time reading Danielle Steele novels) I imagined the mythical big book as something written by Tolstoy, dense with characters and themes.
Something like Anna Karenina, that uses up thousands of words and hundreds of pages to detail agrarian society, religion, the destructive force of adulterous love and the blessings of a close-knit family. In fact, I'm pretty sure all of Tolstoy's books are, almost by definition, big books.
Okay, so what's up with my current obsession over big books.
Although, I'm not anything close to Tolstoy, not even remotely in the same category that touches the same category, I'm realizing that the work in progress might be my version of a big book.
Lately, I've been spending time at the end of each day staring out my living room window with a glass of wine, trying to piece together all the disparate issues and coax them into something where, like with any good dish, the flavors will compliment and surprise.
Honestly, the whole process is a little scary.
I'm breaking out of my writing comfort zone where themes are cozy and easily defined. It's a big jump, like the difference between having a cat and having a child. That's not a slam on cat owners, by the way, just a reference to my own twenty-something discovery that having a kitty-baby didn't fully prepare me for having an infant.
So what's happening in this new book of mine?
It deals with pharmaceutical culture, my beloved Portlandia, failed artists, mother/daughter relationships, organic and sustainable marijuana farms, drug legislation, porn culture, death, first love, poverty, big families, class separation, and quite possibly, as of my staring at falling leaves thoughts of last night, prostitution.
I LOVE this book.
And for the first time in my writing career I'm worried I might not be able to do justice to my newest love affair.
Like I said before, I'm under no illusion it will be Tolstoy. But it will be mine and hopefully I'll be up to making it everything I think it can be.