August 16, 2013

The writing bug is back

Fall is in the air a bit early and the dog days of August seem to be skipping us this year. Windows are open. My husband is wearing a sweatshirt which seems a bit excessive, but he finds anything under 90 degrees to be a tad cool. And I have got the writing bug back.

It tends to desert me in mid-spring and return in the fall. I have no idea why. I'm retired and have no fixed schedule to follow. But my muse or whatever little irritant that goads me on seems to run on a school schedule. A hangover from my youth when summer was for play? I have no idea. I just know that suddenly I have an urge to write something.

So, I've begun to map out my next Daisy&Rose mystery. I am not good at this process. I tend to invent as I write, but I do need a basic outline. First and foremost, I need to know who did what to whom and why. I also like to have a good idea about a little sideshow, so to speak - the hormonally exuberant Malcolm or a jogger who keeps showing up revealing a little more of himself than anyone would like to see.

There are other questions I need to think about. Is romance in the air? Probably not. Who needs romance when you've got dead bodies. What outlandish things will Angela be up to? Any more pets to be added to the menagerie? But really, I just need the basic plot. The rest will come, like Shoeless Joe Jackson in the movie.

Occasionally, someone will ask me where I get my ideas. And I usually have to say that most of the time I have no idea. They just arrive. I sit down to write, the flow is good, words get put on the page and there it is. A paragraph or a page or a chapter.

There are times that I've read something I've written a day or so later and think, "Wow. That's not bad. I like it. I don't remember writing it and I wonder where it came from."

Then there are times when I know the moment an idea came to me. This week it happened twice, both between four and five in the morning, my usual hour of insomnia.

The first was Saturday night. I was doing my version of counting sheep - going through the alphabet and listing items (flowers in this case) that begin with each letter - and it wasn't working. I suddenly remembered the meteor shower and decided to see what the heavens had to offer. Tom and I watched for a while (he, too, often has 4 a.m. insomnia). When I got back in bed, I had an image of Daisy and fog and knew just how I wanted to begin the book. Wonderful. Then I fell fast asleep.

The second time was the night before last. Again 4 a.m. and the alphabet thing not working. I just tossed and turned a lot thinking about all those little things that drive you crazy at four in the morning.

One of those things was the new book. I had a basic plot and the first sentence, but I was stuck. I couldn't grab what I call 'the hook', the hinge I hang the story on. After about forty-five minutes of checking the clock and making no progress with sleep or storyline, I gave up trying. I needed to talk to someone.

But Tom was actually sleeping for a change and I felt it unfair to wake him. So I had a little chat with my mother. A tad one-sided seeing as how she passed on to a better place quite a while ago, but I know she can still hear me. 

My mother loved mysteries. She turned me onto Miss Marple, Peter Wimsey and tons of other wonderful detectives when I was about twelve. So I told her about the new book and how I would love to be able to pick her brain because I was a bit stuck at the moment and it was frustrating. Then I said good night, closed my eyes, snuggled down, and there it was! I had the hook. A ghost who walks at four in the morning. Coincidence? I don't think so. Thanks, Mom.


  1. How marvelous that your muse may be your dear mother. Writing really is what connects us to the important things.

    And I have to say that the second best time to be a writer is when a new story is just taking shape. The only time that feels better is when the story is finished.

  2. I liked it :)

  3. Hey Pen,

    I don't seem to get writer's block. I stumble around, which may be the same thing, but I have ideas. I just throw most of 'em out. You get yours at night when you can't sleep. I get my workable ideas when my brain is idling ... thinking no thoughts and operating from the Id. Stuff drops in and my brain wakes up, kinda.

    Then … there’s the shower. And church. I get some amazing ideas in church, but I believe that God would not care for me to label him as Muse, so I don’t push it. I’m barely in the last pew as it is.