Paula’s Post #7 – One of the things I like best (and fear most) about the 5writers challenge is the new sense of discipline that this unique endeavour brings to one’s writing. The new sense of urgency it brings to one’s writing.
Specifically, to my writing.
But to err, as they say, is human and this week, I must confess, I’ve been weak.
Discipline, in fact, flew right out the window. Evaporated. Gone. Hasta la vista, baby!
But what about urgency you ask? Ah, (to borrow from the Bard) all I can say is ‘aye, there’s the rub‘. Urgency, alas, has remained my faithful friend and follower, not only this past week, but throughout the first seven weeks of this 5writers challenge.
Seven weeks! OMG!
I know, I know, I can hear you now. A cacophony of disapproving mutterings and murmurings, echoing through cyberspace. Worse yet, if I am to continue with my ‘true confessions’ I must admit to not having written a word since the end of the conference on October 22nd.
No further plots plotted, period, full stop.
In terms of progress, my outline is still languishing somewhere amidst the muddled middle, and, while I have no real idea of how productive my fellow 5writers have been, (we’re all holding our cards a bit close to the chest) I fear that I’m the one who is eating dust in this 5 horse race.
In the circumstances aforesaid, I have no choice but to enter a plea of guilty, or, at the very least, a plea of nolo contendere. In retrospect, I could have planned better. In retrospect, I should have planned better.
But the simple truth is that I did not.
In mitigation, I could plead extenuating circumstances. To wit, the fact that for most of this past week, I found myself confined to an overstuffed vehicle, whizzing down I-5, with all waypoints, rest breaks and accommodations dictated by the capricious whims, physiology and needs of a rambunctious, 85 pound Standard Poodle and an incontinent, blind and deaf, 17 year old Miniature Poodle that needs to go ‘outside’ every three hours, day and night.
I could also respectfully submit that for the balance of this evaporating week, I dutifully (and quite happily) entertained house guests.
Shoulda… Coulda… Woulda…
Nevertheless, much as I would love to write a post on the subject of Procrastination, with a capital “P”, I fear that train has already left the station. Not once, but several times.
Done and overdone.
I hear the distant voice of a curmudgeonly judge, admonishing me to get on with it: ‘I have your point, counsel, move on.’
Yes indeed, time to think of something new to write about for this week’s post. But what?
And then it came to me. A brilliant, bright new idea. As bright and clear and fully formed as a humongous meteorite hurtling not just through cyberspace, but real space. By this point, you see, I knew I would be up late, writing, well into the wee hours of the morning. So why not write a post about writing at night?
How clever! I thought, smugly congratulating myself on my bright new idea. Brilliant!
Voila! Perfect! Eureka! I found it.
Filled with a renewed sense of discipline, and with my constant companion urgency hovering somewhere just over my head, I powered up my laptop, clicked on this blog and… and… and… found Writing in the Dark. Silk’s post #7 from today, (oops! I mean yesterday, since it is now well past midnight).
Silk, Silk, Silk, how could you do this to me? How is it that, mere days apart, we somehow hit upon the same brilliant topic for a blog post?
Mouth hanging open in disbelief, I stared at that gorgeous image of your magnificent, wide-eyed owl. Read with a mixture of joy and dread your passionate, lyrical, evocative exposition on the joys of waiting ’til the midnight hour’ (with apologies, to Wilson Pickett, for ‘borrowing’ his deft turn of phrase).
Once again, I find myself back of the pack, eating dust.
For not only has the race gone to the swift, Silk also trumped me with her evocative title, her gorgeous photos, her powerful, almost poetic prose and vivid imagery Owls? Larks? Hummingbirds? My God! Not mere ‘writing’ in the dark, but rather ‘dancing’ in the dark. Bravo Silk!
2:16 am – Okay, time for a reality check. Although I am, most assuredly now ‘writing in the dark’, I find I cannot make that activity the subject of this blog post for, to borrow from the realm of Canadian Constitutional jurisprudence, the field has clearly already been occupied. (And don’t even think of asking me where that arcane tidbit came from, though, if pressed, I’d have to admit to a vague recollection harking back to my moot court topic in second year law school).
But I digress.
What I really want to say in this blog post is that sometimes, in the world of writing, just like in real life, not much gets accomplished. Sometimes, the wheels of the bus just fall off. Sometimes, this is due to some human failing, some blameworthy conduct, (to wit: p-r-o-c-r-a-s-t-i-n-a-t-i-o-n). Sometimes, this is due to the many exigencies of real life.
And sometimes, this is due to mere unfortunate happenstance. Like the man who invented the light bulb…. right after Mr. Edison.
Sometimes, we writers face roadblocks. Sometimes, we face setbacks. I’m feeling a litte battered and bruised this week, some of it is my fault, some of it is not. But I did (eventually) smile at the fact that Silk and I had both, independently, come up with the same idea for a blog post. I mean, you have to admit it is funny. And I smiled even further when I remembered a similar situation, several years back, when I hit upon what I thought was not only the perfect premise, but also the perfect title for a mystery novel:
Scandal, intrigue and murder at an elite golf and country club. Fully formed characters whirled through my mind, all as vivid as the images one sees on television or on the silver screen. I saw my novel’s golf pro; I saw my novel’s clubhouse; I saw my novel’s cute little red golf carts, I smelled the worn leather club chairs in my men’s locker room, the whiff of whiskey and cuban cigars. I heard the whispered bickering of my novel’s stuffy dining room staff, and saw the hardy, 90 year old Scotswomen who still turned out for the shrimp bisque and watercress sandwiches at the “Ladies Day” luncheons.
I compiled notebooks full of character sketches and feeling the first flush of excitement over my wonderful idea, I did what all writers do. I googled the ever so clever title of my novel-to-be: Deadly Lies.
And that is how I discovered A Buried Lie, a golf mystery by Roberta Islieb, featuring LPGA golfer/sleuth Cassie Burdette. I stared, mouth open in disbelief, at a photograph of the author standing over a cake decorated with the book’s title and depicting, in some charming fashion, a golf course sand trap.
My heart, as we writers try hard not to say, sank. Jealousy coursed through my veins, (Ugh – that sounds like it hurts). Not quite my title, sure, but close enough to discourage me from writing that book, at least back then.
Tonight, another google search reveals five Cassie Burdette golf mysteries published by Berkley Prime Crime. author Roberta Islieb is now working on a series of culinary mysteries set in Key West.
And my title? Deadly Lies? Another quick google search revealed that author Cynthia Eden used that title for her second in a series suspense novel about an FBI agent still traumatized by her encounter with a serial killer.
Not quite the book I imagined at all.
My version of Deadly Lies never took flight. But I didn’t quit writing, just because I found out someone else came up with a similar title, and a similar book, right before I did.
But real writers don’t give up and I haven’t either. Maybe I haven’t quite mastered the concept of discipline, but with each passing day, urgency becomes more omnipresent.
I still like my title, Deadly Lies, and my idea for my own ‘golf mystery’. And one day I just might write that book.
So, sorry, Roberta and Cynthia, I haven’t yet read your books. I hope to when this 5writers challenge is over on February 5th, 2013. But I still love the title Deadly Lies. Oh, and guess what? I checked it out. You can’t copyright book titles.
Besides, I thought of it first!