It was blazing hot outside, but I never knew it. I shaved but never showered. On TV, the U.S. Open thought it was the Twenty-Four Hours of Le Mans. I was mainly oblivious. Occasionally, a hot-pink shirt or a crowd’s roar drew my attention. Golf announcers are exceedingly calm and mostly literate. Vin Scully is everywhere.
The day had other minor achievements. I made some congealed salad. I washed dishes, mainly because I do not own or employ a dishwasher. I’m wearing the same cotton football jersey and gym shorts I wore yesterday, but I’ve plenty of clothes that were washed, dried and folded as recently as Thursday.
I have clean clothes. I choose not to wear them. It’s a non-fashion statement.
I played the theme of Petticoat Junction on my guitar without ever having attempted it before. It’s funny how I remember every word from a television theme fifty years ago, but haven’t memorized the words to some songs I wrote a few months ago.
This morning I didn’t even tune in, but I could hum the theme from The Rifleman from memory.
Did I decide to start drinking at the crack of dawn? No. I was writing. I was locked in. I was on message. The first draft of Cowboys Come Home, all 86,326 words of it, is done. Yesterday I cranked out 5,004 words. That’s a day’s work without an ounce of sweat. It won’t make me live longer, but it sure felt alive.
The story — of Ennis and Harry, coming back to Texas, at the end of World War II, just wanting to go back to “cowboying,” only to find out there will be no peace — is done. Much remains, but the hard part is over. I’ve wrestled with a long, grueling yarn, and I will wrestle some more. The jury is out on whether it will grow longer or shorter. Will I enhance the narrative more than I will pare it down? Hard to say. How many more drafts? Probably one concentrating on editing and another obsessed with proofreading. Then another if I read it one last time and don’t think it’s ready for submission.
The best incentive to put this western to bed is that I am already champing at the bit to write another. My first novel (The Audacity of Dope) was an irreverent chase. The second (The Intangibles) was evoked by the events of my youth. The third (Crazy of Natural Causes) was embedded in my observations of life’s absurdity. The fourth (Forgive Us Our Trespasses) was the tale of a rise and a fall, skidding on the grease of patronage and drug addiction. Two years separated the first from the second, and the second from the third. Eight months fell between the third and the fourth. The fourth has been out for two and a half months.
Possibly I’m getting better. Definitely I’m getting faster.
Most of my books are available here, in Kindle and print editions.
The following links are for the print editions.
Forgive Us Our Trespasses is a crime novel about corruption in high places, or at least as high as places get in South Carolina. Dad’s a monstrous crook. Kids are on drugs. An improbable rise and calamitous fall, written just in time for the Age of Trump.
Longer Songs is my collection of short stories, all expanded from songs I’ve written. Try them. You like them.
Crazy of Natural Causes, set in Kentucky, is a fable on the absurdity of life, told through a football coach who loses everything and finds ways to cope. Most of the time, it’s Jesus. Sometimes it’s weed. Chance Benford just tries to get along.
The Intangibles is set in the 1960s, with desegregation, civil rights, bigotry and upheaval all around and a high school football team at the center.
The Audacity of Dope is a freewheeling tale of an unlikely hero and his girlfriend leading the Feds on a wild chase across the country. Riley Mansfield is a pot-smoking songwriter. Melissa Franklin is a schoolteacher ready for a change.
My sportswriting is mainly on display at montedutton.com. Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (a bit more irreverent and philosophical). I’m on Facebook at Monte.Dutton, Google+ at MonteDuttonWriter, and Instagram at TUG50.