Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, March 25, 2019, 12:52 p.m.
I’ve been reading three books at the same time. One is in hardcover. One is in my Kindle. One is in my phone. The last two could be read in either. For no apparent reason, I read one strictly in one and one strictly in the other.
My ninth novel is on hiatus. I think about it constantly. It’s going to take off like a rocket when it takes off at all. I’m very occupied. I have much to do each day. It’s hard to open a manuscript, write three paragraphs, and set it aside. Some people can do it. I need time for at least eight pages.
Soon. When a free-lance assignment is done. When the taxes are filed. Soon. Soon. Soon. When. When. When. It’s. Going. To. Happen.
In the face of all this, I am having a creative awakening. I’ve really enjoyed music. For more than a year now, I’ve had a Facebook Live (Monte.Dutton) show each Sunday night, usually at 8 p.m. EDT. I sing and play guitar. I talk about the NASCAR race. I mention the latest small-town eccentricities. I tell folks where they can find my blogs and books. I encourage them to contribute to my Patreon page.
Mostly, though, I just have fun.
Have you noticed that people have, in general, become more contentious? Perhaps politics and sports set the tone, but people seem to be willing to argue about anything. They eavesdrop on other conversations, itching for an opportunity to join in.
What? Y’all talking about Trump?
No. We’re talking about trumpets. I like them in “Ring of Fire.” You know. The Johnny Cash song.
At an interview the other day, I managed to get in a debate over the Oxford comma. The Oxford comma. We were talking about trumpets, of course, and I mentioned that I wrote novels.
What do you think about the Oxford comma?
I interchange. When I’m writing fiction, I use it. When I’m writing journalism, I don’t.
That makes no sense.
It’s a matter of style. It’s used in fiction. It’s not in journalism.
Oh, okay. It just seems like you should be consistent.
You’re a lawyer. That’s why you like the Oxford comma. I like it, too. I just go by established rules.
With a novel to finish, I spent the weekend on sports rundowns and schedules, reading, and idly trying to find close endings in college basketball games. I edited obituaries, compiled arrest reports, and inquired about the circumstances of various wrecks and crimes. I watched stock car racing more closely than anything else because I like it, I used to write about it for a living, and Martinsville was a track I particularly liked. I liked this race, too, and even wished occasionally I was there.
I’m in the conflicted state of being both content and unsettled. They’re like The Odd Couple, sniping at each other over the weekly card game.
Another way I cobble out a living is with my books, a wide variety of which is available for sale here.
The new novel, my eighth, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Lightning in a Bottle is now available in an audio version, narrated by Jay Harper.