Detective novelist, Sue Grafton, died on Dec. 28, 2017. She wrote the “alphabet series” of books featuring a private detective named Kinsey Millhone. I have listened to every book on audio read by Judy Kaye from A is for Alibi to Y is for Yesterday. I love Kinsey Millhone. She’s the type of gutsy, independent woman I wish I could be.
I read that Grafton’s last book in the alphabet series was to be Z is for Zero, and because her family said she would not have wanted a ghostwriter, Y is the end of the line. I have never liked the idea of a ghost writer continuing where a novelist left off, so I’m okay with no Z.
The thing is, I have this feeling that Kinsey is out there in the fictional Santa Teresa, California waiting for something to happen. She’s waiting for Sue to write a new adventure. Maybe she goes over to her landlord Henry’s apartment and talks to him about their next steps as he busies himself in the kitchen baking bread. I know she and Henry are not real, but they are kind of real. Aren’t they? I want them to be okay.
Yep, I might be slightly crazy.
I almost want to write some Sue Grafton fan fiction. I won’t do that. This world belongs to Grafton, not to me. I am considering developing a fantasy for myself that puts me in Kinsey’s world. I don’t really relish the idea of going back to the 80s in this fantasy. Would I go back as an awkward teenager or as me of today? Who would I be in this world?
Maybe I need to write my own female detective who happens to be a Kinsey Millhone fan. She might have a bit of a Stephanie Plum vibe too. Janet Evanovich had better stay healthy!
I’m going to call these pieces writing sketches. They’re short and meant to go nowhere. I might do something with them one day.
Edmund wore a hat on most days because he thought it made him look friendly. Theresa thought he wore the hat to hide his receding hairline. He was one of those balding guys with long hair. He played guitar in a local band that was destined to remain that way. But he refused to give up his rock star aspirations. Theresa had been his on and off girlfriend since their freshman year of college. She believed she could find someone better than Edmund, but didn’t have the will to leave. They were both unhappy, but comfortable with the lives they were living. Making the smallest change seemed too risky a proposition, so the couple kept any hopes and dreams in check. Then Sam came to town.
Sam was what you’d call a go-getter. Edmund and Theresa met him at the university. He was a business major who was always thinking of new ways to make money. His schemes worked about 40% of the time, but he looked at each failure as a stepping stone to success. You would expect someone like Sam would achieve a moderate amount of success in life. Don’t be too quick to make assumptions.
What would happen if these characters met a woman and her imaginary polar bear?
There doesn’t seem to be a way to ignore the world’s realities anymore, so Cassie is ready to create a world of her own. She has adopted an imaginary polar bear named Gordon.
Gordon appears to her when she’s anxious. He show’s up when feelings of doubt creep into her mind. He reminds her that life is good regardless of what the newspapers say.
Gordon doesn’t talk. He’s simply a presence. If Cassie is feeling down, Gordon does things to entertain her. He dances, juggles, wears funny hats–anything to brighten the moment. The bear will not let his friend succumb to negativity.
Cassie understands that Gordon is not real, but she also knows that he is. Does that make sense? Can we know what is real? Is reality just something everyone agrees on?
She has considered telling her friends about Gordon, but worries they will think her crazy. She is also little concerned that one of her friends might try to get in on the Gordon phenomenon. Cassie knows how greedy and selfish that sounds. She will try and do better.
Jake sat in the grass at the foot of the great statue. He didn’t know what the statue signified, but he was drawn to it for some reason. Every day at lunchtime he would leave his office on the 15th floor of the shiny blue building, walk across the courtyard, and take a seat beneath the stone giant. Jake would lay out a hand towel on the grass and then place his sandwich, chips, and soda on top of it. Some days, today included, Julia, from the 12th floor, would sit with him and eat her bagel and cream cheese. They would discuss the doings on the 15th and 12th floors. Jake managed the A-L accounts, and Julia handled M-Z. The conversations were not at all interesting.
They sat and ate until Julia abruptly stood up and pulled Jake to his feet. His sandwich dropped to the ground, and he looked at it forlornly. Julia swiftly kicked the sandwich away and looked pleadingly into Jake’s eyes. He understood her request and answered with a nod. The pair then ducked under the statue’s parted legs and strode away in the opposite direction of the office building. They did not look back.
The woman found she was on her feet and walking along a winding highway. She could see mountains in the hazy distance. She looked down at her feet to see shoes that she didn’t recognize. The shirt and jeans she wore did not seem familiar either. She thought she must be dreaming, because when a person finds oneself in an unfamiliar place wearing strange shoes and clothes, that person must be in a dream.
The dream was boring, so she decided to make something happen.
She moved to the shoulder as a light blue sedan rolled to a stop beside her. The front passenger-side door opened. She looked and saw that there was no driver. She considered getting in and going for a ride. That didn’t seem safe, so she decided to do the driving herself. She walked around to the driver’s side and opened the door. To her surprise, she saw herself sitting behind the wheel. With a feeling of relief, she went back to the passenger side and got in the car. The car began moving forward. The driver and passenger glanced at each other and smiled knowingly. They would soon reach their destination.
I’ve been feeling the urge to write something substantial. I want to work on something, really work.
I want to develop a writing practice. The problem is, I don’t know if I can muster up the discipline.
So I’m thinking I’ll try NaNoWriMo for the umpteenth time. And maybe this time I’ll think of it as a start. The start of living the life I want to live. I’ve always thought I was supposed to be a writer, maybe it’s time to move from thinking to doing.
This sketch might be symbolic of something if you want it to be. Maybe I’ll call it “No Time to Lose.”
I recently listened to The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick. I’m going to write about it, but I’m not calling this a book review. I don’t feel like I know enough about literature to write a proper review. Perhaps, if I start reading book reviews regularly I’d get a feel for it. So this is going to be me talking about a book that I enjoyed
The Good Luck of Right Now is the story of a 38 year old man named Bartholomew Neil. He has spent the last several years of his life taking care of his mother who was sick with cancer. He’s never had a job or lived on his own, so his mother’s death is particularly difficult for him.
Bartholomew is someone who is not quite right. I get the feeling he is somewhere on the Autism/Aspergers spectrum, but his diagnosis is never revealed.
Much of the story is told as a series of letters that Bartholomew writes to the actor, Richard Gere. Gere becomes his imaginary confidant, helping him get through various difficult situations, including the task of getting to know the girl of his dreams.
Bartholomew becomes friends with Max, another ‘not quite right’ guy he meets in group therapy. Max says the word “fucking” a lot. The book’s narrator did a good job of portraying Max; a childlike man with quite a coarse way of expressing himself.
This book is about people who don’t fit in, and I think that’s why I enjoyed it. I have always fit in. Even when I was the only black kid in the neighborhood and school, I was accepted. There was a place for me. Though I like to think of myself as artsy and weird, I’m pretty much a part of the mainstream. The characters in this book aren’t like that. They’ve been misfits since childhood, and they always will be. I liked looking into his world, maybe getting a taste of what it’s like to live on the fringes.
So I’ll give The Good Luck of Right Now five stars out of five for story, and five out of five for Oliver Wyman’s narration. You should go and read it (or give it a listen)!
November is over, and that means all of those people who did NaNoWriMo will stop posting Facebook updates about their progress. I tried NaNoWriMo a couple of times and failed quickly. There are two reasons for my failure, I think. First, I don’t have enough time to write that many words every day. Well, I do have the time, but I apparently would rather be doing other things. The second reason is probably a better one. I don’t think I enjoy writing fiction. At least I don’t think I like it.
Do I really not like writing fiction? When I ask myself that question, I have trouble answering it. I’m always thinking of story ideas, but I don’t jot down those ideas and keep them on file like real writers are supposed to do. When I do start writing a story I start thinking of so many details to include that it makes me tired. I feel like I just want to get to the point and then wrap it up.
A few years ago I had this idea that I would write story components that I could hyperlink to each other at strategic points. I was creating something interesting, I think, but it wasn’t a story. Maybe it could have been. Maybe I should try that approach again.
I just Googled the terms “hyperlink story” and got some results, including this one. So it’s actually a thing! Gotta look into it.
I reckon I’ll continue to struggle. I will also grapple with dance and with art. I hope I can get some enjoyment out of it.
I signed up for The Fiction Project. Now I’m writing a story to put in the little book they sent me after they received my $60.00. I think I signed up so I would be forced to write some fiction. I’m not really being forced to do it, but wasting $60.00 would be a silly thing to do.
Here’s the thing; writing fiction takes a lot of work. I have to wonder why I’m compelled to do it. It’s kind of not fun. It’s kind of grueling.
Today I watched about 6 episodes of the X-Files on Netflix. That was easy. That didn’t require any effort. I also fed the outside dog, Annie; I fed the other two dogs, picked up their poo with a plastic bag, and fed the cats. None of these tasks were difficult.
Finally, I sat down to add some more words to the story I began last week. I like the story, and I think the idea is good, but I’m finding it mentally exhausting to write. I keep adding all of these little details, and quirks to the characters’ personalities, and a back story about the main character’s schizophrenic aunt. Why do I put myself through this?
I don’t expect to have my fiction published. I’m apparently doing this just for me, but I don’t know why.
I once started writing a novel, thinking that if I were a novelist, I would be important. I would deserve to be here on this planet. I don’t feel that need anymore, but for some reason, I still write. It just doesn’t make any sense!