Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, June 14, 2017, 9:56 a.m.
I don’t know what to write. I’m just trying because I find it therapeutic. When nothing makes sense, and I need it to, I just write. With a little luck, it turns into a blog. Either that, or I play guitar a while. The point at which I start writing in earnest – on a fiction project, for instance – is typically the culmination of coffee, social media, breakfast, watching the news, and checking the latest sales figures.
Sometimes, though, the world gets in the way. Bad news seems extra stark in the morning. The TV screen fills up: A CBS News Special Report! I’m lucky. The best possible person to deliver bad news is Charlie Rose.
Five people, one of whom is the Majority Whip of the United States House of Representatives, were shot this morning while practicing for a Congressional baseball game. A baseball game! A shooting at ball practice is some kind of cosmic statement, a perfect allegory of what life has become. It doesn’t matter whether one thinks the solution is reducing arms or increasing them. Both sides know that things are seriously screwed up. America is going to hell. A broad distance stretches out to the horizon as to the reasons why.
Nothing seems real. Not politics. Not sports. In the short run, violence makes me numb. The Red Sox have won dramatically in extra innings two straight nights. That magic went up in a hail of fire.
The Warriors won the NBA. The Penguins won the Stanley Cup. The Tigers went to the White House. Jeff Sessions went back to the Senate. I went to Bi-Lo. Coffee was on sale.
I think I’m going to edit today. I doubt I’m going to be able to conjure something new. I can be meticulous. Probably not creative.
Too many of these incidents crop up in life. The memories may subside a bit, but they don’t go away. I was five when President Kennedy was assassinated. Some of those memories are the basis of the first chapter in my second novel, The Intangibles. Much of the chapter I invented, but it spread out from the JFK memories.
I was watching on TV when Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald. I awakened to news of Sirhan Sirhan murdering Robert Kennedy. I was riding around Laurens with my father when Arthur Bremer shot George Wallace. I was sitting on a couch in the Presbyterian College sports information office when the Challenger exploded. I watched 9/11 unfold here, in my living room, where I am sitting now.
At the moment, CBS News looks like an old Clint Eastwood movie.
If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Lightning in a Bottle, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at montedutton.com. (montedutton.com/blog/merchandise)
I’ve written six novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.
The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.
Lightning in a Bottle is the story of Barrie Jarman, the hope of stock car racing’s future. Barrie, a 18-year-old from Spartanburg, South Carolina, is both typical of his generation and a throwback to the sport’s glory days.
Cowboys Come Home is a modern western. Two World War II heroes come home from the Pacific to Texas.
I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.
I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes. It’s a fable of life’s absurdity.
I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.
I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.
I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.
Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are on sale at Emma Jane’s (see ad above). Signed copies of all my fiction are also on sale at L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton, South Carolina.
Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).