I'd originally intended this to be a horror story. Alice was going to sit at the book, the words were going to become unmeshed from their pages, they'd attack her and then go hatch eggs in her body. She'd hallucinate as they fed/mated/whatever the hell stray words do when they attack someone. The last thing she was going to see before dying were letters erupting from her skin, like spider eggs hatching from a carcass. They were going to skitter off into the stacks where the books would feed, making disturbing chittering noises. Yeah.
I think we've all had those nights where we were convinced our writing would kill us all, so it hits all the right nightmare-notes.
Anyhow, I got to the point where she was beginning to hallucinate and thought of a less fucked-up but more surreal direction to take the story instead. I like this version a little more since the other was depressing and a little darker than I usually go.
The story's genesis was the hoary old meme about evil books like the Necronomicon, about how some knowledge is so dark and evil it can infect you/make you crazy/inspire you to write pop music/bake cookies/whatever. I thought it'd be more fun to make a book more literally evil/predatory. The ideas would come off the page in physical form and eat you.
Then I started writing about nineteenth-century transcendentalists, thought about how silly they were and it turned into a story about intellectual cross-pollination instead. Obviously.
Either way, I think it works. I got a chance to stretch my dense-prose legs, work in some amusingly silly imagery/borderline puns, talk about economics, write about libraries, which is something I do, apparently, and all in all be a little surreal. All in a day's work.
Next up: depending on available time (going to two separate concerts this week) I might write the final installment of Cameron before the Big Rug-Pulling (which will be followed by redrafting, rethinking and rewriting for reasons which will be very obvious after the BRP). Or another short story.