Like Ham on Rye
Alright, here’s the idea. It’s a real-time plotless novel. First-person, present tense. No synopsis, no planned plot or story. You buy a notebook and then take it everywhere. Until it’s full, everywhere you go, everything you do, everything that happens, you write a few sentences about it, a page about it, whatever you feel or think or know about it. What you write can be introspective, active, reflective, philosophical, anything you want. You just report, record, never knowing what will happen next, never trying to tie or lead one scene to another, this day to that. You just see where it goes, what it adds up to, what can be derived from it.

When the notebook is full, you write up a scene or a line that seems to imply it all had meaning, a reason, a silent pending epiphany. Perhaps it’s about the fact that we do this — that we end our stories with lines about the meaning of it all, because we hope life ends with a line about the meaning of it all. Then you call it done and good and dead and gone and you hit the Publish button and art turns into product and breath turns into memory and that’s it, that’s the whole thing.

Robert Hoekman Jr is the author of nine books and the cohost of Spillers and the Spillers After Show podcast. He has won awards for writing and podcasting. His work has been featured by Fast Company, WIRED, Huckberry, Bike Exif, Iron & Air, and many others. He’s currently writing a novel, like everyone’s writing a novel. Learn more at