I’m taking a break. I’ve been working on the thirty-eighth chapter of the first draft of a novel about an evil politician and a good cop who have known each other all their lives. It’s slowed as it nears its end. When last I left Denny Frawley, he was debating the incumbent governor and this laptop told me I needed to rid it of viruses, errors, unnecessary processes, and other assorted virtual pestilences.
I didn’t mind. The laptop’s getting old. I’m not budgeted for a new one until I become a successful novelist or I win the Publishers Clearing House, whichever comes first. If neither occurs, I’ll start buying Powerball tickets again. I’ve pretty much paid down all my credit-card balances, so I’ve got that going for me, which, as Carl Spackler might note, is nice.
After about eighty thousand words of pondering, I’ve almost completely decided to call my crime novel Forgive Us Our Trespasses. My first novel had a perfect name in terms of what happened in it. The Audacity of Dope has nothing at all in common with President Obama except that he wrote a book, which I have read, called The Audacity of Hope, and one of his detractors wrote a book by almost that exact name attacking the president, and it’s caused some people to think my novel had something to do with the other one, and it doesn’t, but what can you do?
My second novel, The Intangibles, also has a good title. They are the slogans stenciled on the walls of a high school locker room. It’s football season and a great time to read The Intangibles, which is about civil rights and the sixties and desegregation and bigotry and militancy and, most importantly, high school football.
My third novel is elsewhere in this laptop, and it’s waiting patiently for me to decide what I’m going to do with it. It’s set in Kentucky and is a story of a man’s redemption called Crazy of Natural Causes (no italics because it hasn’t been published and isn’t officially a novel or a book or anything but a project).
I need to spend more time on the matter of what I’m going to do with it.
My instinct is to write and work on my craft. I’m writing short stories and entering them in contests, trying to do the best I can and trust that, if they aren’t good enough, they’ll get better if I keep trying to hone my craft.
A writer has to write, and here I am, the owner of a liberal arts degree that was supposed to prepare me to do everything fairly well, and I think that’s what it did, and, yet, at this stage of my career, one of the reasons, in addition to the fact that I love it, is that it seems to be my only choice. Most people who know me seem to have much more confidence that “things will work out” than I do.
Besides, many of these confident people don’t really know what they’re talking about because, quite obviously, they haven’t read my books.
Thanks for reading my whine. Back to the grindstone.