August 9, 2010

Rules to Live By

August 9, 2010

Rule #1: Keys go in the outside pocket of my purse, preferably hooked over the flap so they don’t fall so deeply into said pocket that I have to fish around for them in the dark.

Rule #2: Cell goes into the inside pocket of my purse, except when I’m at home and need to use it for sending email or taking silly pictures of my keys. Which means I often have to search frantically for the phone and call my own self to find the darned thing.

Rule # 3: Purse goes in the basket just inside the back door but on top of all the other junk that gets tossed in there. Easy enough, except when I accidentally carry it upstairs to my study and leave it on my desk underneath a pile of mail or a bag of cat food.

Rule #4: Glasses stay on my nose at all times. This one has been a major struggle for me. Although I’m farsighted, my distance vision is still 20-20. My close vision—let’s just say my arms aren’t nearly long enough anymore. Some years back, I went to no-line bifocals, clear glass on top (or only slightly concave) and then a nice hourglass of varying degrees of convexity that lets me stare at the computer or a book for hours without getting a headache.

The problem: I don’t like the way I look in glasses. So off they’d come and hide themselves away, until I finally decided I was too old to worry about my appearance and didn’t want to spend so much of what limited time I have left on this earth looking for my blasted glasses. So nowadays they stay put, except when I take a shower, change my clothes, or go to sleep. Not perfect but better than before.

By now, you must be wondering what these rules have to do with writing. Well, the very same brain that craves order in my personal possessions cherishes near chaos when I write. It doesn’t care whether I‘m certain of where things are in terms of plot, setting, or character. It likes getting lost and wandering around. It thinks that’s fun.

Early on, I’d never start a new story without having the first and last sentence firmly in mind. I’d hold up my left hand, studying the gradual incline from my thumb to my middle finger.

“Right around my ring finger,” I’d tell myself. “That’s where something has to change.” By the time I arrived at my pinky, the story would be done.

These days, I surprise myself with how little I know or want to know before I sit down to write.

Lately, I’ve been contemplating a murder mystery as a sequel to another one that took me lots of years and sweat to finish. The first book, Fit to Kill, is set in the appropriately named Bone, Iowa. I’ve been missing that little town and the weird people in it, especially my narrator, Annie Lawrence; her off-the-wall friend Rennie McGrath; and the police detective, Able Marsh.

The sum total of what I know about this possible new entry in the series: a minor never-seen character from the first book gets bumped off. Why? How? Who did it? Guess I’ll have to figure those things out—after I call my cell phone and locate my glasses.

No comments:

Post a Comment