[Conversation Regarding Jacob Abraham]
Jacob Abraham is intentionally divergent in content and form from the usual nature vignettes I write. It came about via a different process than usual. There are three forces that influenced it. The process, widely interpreted, involved, firstly, a letter sent to me accidentally by an editor. Secondly, a four week binge of reading and listening to material about Sasquatch. And thirdly, an internal and intuitive decision that real life possibilities are more fitting for good stories than genre writing.
The letter that was sent to me was from the head editor of a magazine. It was sent by mistake. It was to his sub-editor or reader. It got cleared up right away because he sent a second letter apologizing for the mistake, and also further explaining what he had written. I accepted the apology and we actually ended up shooting back and forth some good hearted and fun words about writing and magazines. In the letter he basically asked his second in command to read the writing piece that was submitted and give their impression. He was leaning towards not publishing the piece but wanted a second opinion. He said he really liked the writing, its descriptive capabilities done well and often even beautifully, but that not much actually happened in the story. I told him it was a celebration of language and nature and meant that way. But I got the feeling to once again, (I had created several stories with regular or orthodox plots and less descriptive writing before), pen a more ‘normal’ story. That is when I wrote Jacob Abraham.
The Bigfoot angle was part of the process also. When I study something, I immerse myself in it, and I am soaked, saturated with a given topic until I get out from the water and dry off. I had been listening to Sasquatch encounters straight, like an addict or something, for about four weeks. Whether such a creature exists or not, I thought that the things around Sasquatch sounded almost as interesting as the creature itself. For example, the mysterious rural nights, odd sounds in the distant mountains, something large wading or walking through a creek, the entire idea of what the wilderness or forest and environs simply are. The mise-en-scene of it all. So the story started the narrative of a man whose friend was missing, and it was going to be discovered that the friend, and the friend looking for the friend, would have encountered this bi-pedal creature in the forest.
During the writing the fingers at the actual keyboard interacting, did something else. They had the man searching, but suffering from a problem with his memory, and ultimately with his own identity. It could have been a form of dementia as they call it, or Alzheimers, but he was really mistaken, and was looking for himself so to speak. I felt this was more interesting if keenly observed or thought about, than any type of genre story. There is a certain loneliness to the man, and I hoped also the story speaks to the fact that people suffering from illnesses are not ‘all gone,’ or ‘write offs', but very competent and lucid in certain areas. This intrigues me and takes maturity and seriousness to look at because there is a certain amount of sadness involved. He is not wandering, aimlessly, with no shoes, and completely, say, delusional. He prepares, camps, has a thought process that is not over the top or off the wall. Yet, there is a serious problem with his mind also.
The process of writing the story happens quite quickly, so the process here with the letter and the Bigfoot binging could be called a pre-process process, or a process widely interpreted. Basic revisions to the story are only grammatical or typographic. The process happens somewhere before the story inside of the writer, though the third part, the decision to switch from forest creature-external problem, towards internal-memory-illness person-centered problem, did happen while writing the story. It’s like preparing for a camping trip, yes, and you have a route to get there, but you decide on a different destination at the last moment, a site in this area and not in that area.