Struggling with writer’s block, author Andy Fitch left his desk one day to search for inspiration in New York City. Wandering the streets, he discovered his next project.
His book “Sixty Morning Walks” was originally published in 2008 in an interactive online format that allows readers to follow his walks through the city with images and text. The book will be published in print in 2013. Fitch will give a public reading at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Clark Lounge as part of Ithaca College’s Distinguished Visiting Writers Series.
Staff Writer Harmony Wright spoke with Fitch about the inspiration behind “Sixty Morning Walks,” the interactive online format and the process of getting the book published.
Harmony Wright: How did you come up with the idea for “Sixty Morning Walks?”
Andy Fitch: I pledged to myself I would finish one project on Feb. 15 and start a new one that day. That morning, I sat at my desk and nothing came to me. When I lived in New York, the way I resolved these issues is I would go take a walk, and hopefully it would come then. So I went outside and started walking. As I began cutting through the park, I thought, “OK, I’ll be doing a project called ‘Sixty Morning Walks.’”
HW: How did the online interactive format for “Sixty Morning Walks” develop?
AF: Craig Dworkin was the publisher. He’s a great poet, and that was totally his design. Some family members think all I’ve done is put together 12 pictures, and they never knew to click on one of those. One time, I asked Craig if there should be some cue, but he didn’t want any. I think of him as much cooler than myself, so I thought, “I’ll go with what Craig says.”
HW: In your writing you take the role of an objective observer strolling through the city. Are you ever criticized for the lack of plot in the feature?
AF: All the time. I’ve seen so many people get excited and tell me they’re into my book, and they’re on walk five, and I know they don’t get past walk eight. There’s no plot — no plot.
HW: What drove your decision to write in this style?
AF: I never really needed to finish books. I never really cared what happened at the ending. All I
really liked, I realized, was exposition — the first chapter — so I wanted to write a book that was basically 60 expositions.
HW: You said you are involved in a “60-year cycle of 60-part projects.” Why is the number 60 so important?
AF: If you’re going to pick a number and investigate time in our culture, you pick 60.
HW: What inspired this project?
AF: All the walks are 60 sentences long. There’s a project from John Cage, a musician and poet, in which he would tell 60-second stories. If it were a long story, he would have to read it really fast, and if it were a short story, he would have to read it really slowly. Also, a project by the poet Lyn Hejinian in which she wrote her autobiography when she was 37 years old using 37 sentences for each chapter.
HW: What is your goal for the book?
AF: I really wanted it to feel like a walk through a big dense city. I wanted people to find their own way through the book and have certain impressions linger. My hope was that 20 people could read a specific walk and have a different experience of it, and that would be the same as if 20 people took a walk across Manhattan. It would be an entirely different walk for each of them.
To experience the online version of Flitch’s “Sixty Morning Walks,” visit http://english.utah.edu/eclipse/projects/WALKS/Morning.html.