Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Armadillo shortages and cold weather

So I had someone ask me today, "When are you going to start writing another book?" Ouch, baby!! Classic foul - like asking the mother of a newborn when she's going to get pregnant again. But I knew her intentions were good, and because of this, I resisted taking off my shoe and beating her with it.
But writers write. That's what they do. And I love writing. I even love the basics - choosing just the right word, putting the sentences together, working hard to make the language flow. So I do need to choose another project. I know that. But I want to choose just the right one.
When I was a newspaper reporter, it was so easy. Life was right there. There's a reason all those cop shows say their storylines are "ripped from the headlines." It's because they're really good headlines. (Thank you, copy editors). When I worked at a little paper in Logansport, Ind., the reporters would schlep in about 7:30 a.m. (I'd always be late, naturally), find a story, report it and have it written by 11:30 a.m. - noon if the copy desk was feeling generous. That was the deal - come in, find one, write one, and if you're lucky, use the afternoon to get a jumpstart on the next one. At the time, I thought it was just horribly unfair - my muse did not care for the operating schedule.
But truthfully, it was great training. After that gig, I rarely had trouble coming up with ideas. Of course, now and then, the head honcho would throw a crimp in your plans. You'd be all set to head out on a great story, and he (or she) would come over and lean in on your desk, saying conspiratorially, "You know, I haven't seen as many armadillos around this year. Don't you think that's odd?" Um, okay. You'd know what was coming, and soon the headline over your byline would boast the winning tale of "Armadillo shortages on tap this season?"
Or around, say, the end of September, you'd get another visit from above, when you learned that "It sure is cold outside. I wonder how cold it will get this winter?" And soon, under your byline would be the scintillating tale of "Cold weather on tap this winter?" You get the idea.
But those were exceptions. Usually, there were a multitude of interesting things to write about. So fiction, I'd think, would be even easier. Heck, it's pretend!! I don't even have to get the quotes right. But for some reason - maybe because I'm new - I'm very tentative about starting over, choosing the right storyline, making sure it fits. Or maybe, I think if I choose the wrong one, the editors will come back. With more story ideas.

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