24/7 the writer is on call

In the time I’ve not blogged, I have written three chapters (40-42) and am half done with chapter 43. I should have written more  . . . a lot more! Of course, I’ve been watching too much MSNBC. But I’ve found that it has actually helped me in coming up with a new ending of my book, Mistaken Identity.

In  my opinion, a writer of fiction is on call 24/7! What’s that mean? It doesn’t mean living, eating, sleep  in front of your computer, the screen always on waiting for that moment of clarity and/or brilliance.

I  my case, it means no matter what I’m doing when I am away from writing, editing, my mind is still buzzing, looking for some sharp dialogue, a piece of unique scenery I can work into the story, seeing a character that catches my eye and find a place for him/her in the story. Day dreaming, my wife tells me!

I find a lot of what will end up in my stories in the bars and restaurants of Key West. (Try explaining that to  my wife). It’s a tourist town but it has also become a destination for the wealthy. They’ve driven prices up for everything from food to rent. However, some of the real colorful characters of the island have hung on and seeing the two cultures mix is interesting and note worthy.

I’m at a nice restaurant and at one table are a few divers just off the boat and I can tell that from their dress and conversation; a table over are two couples with creased pants and tailored shirts, whispering; another table has a rag-tag couple of sailors who have stopped on their trip to Cuba and the rest of the Caribbean.

Was it Billy Shakespeare that said, All the world’s a stage? Well, whoever said it was right. Unless you’re writing sifi the real world is swirling all around you. Everything you need for the background of your story is right there, you just have to stop and observe  it. Because writers are observers and recorders of cultures and time.

My point in all this (yes there’s a point) is that in watching MSNBC’s Morning Joe recently, I was hit one morning with a new twist ending to my book and it came from the news! I’d explain it in more detail but then I’d have to explode your computer, or whatever you’re reading this on, like in the  opening of the old TV show Mission Impossible, but bigger.

The discussion on the TV focused on something that had been talked about before but the other morning, after some self-editing and wondering about the ending of my new book, the conversation between guests and Joe took on a new meaning. “What if,” I thought to myself, “I used that?”

How to twist the story in that direction came to me instantly! The more I thought about it the more fun it became and easier too. I took my small notebook I bought last year at Eason’s in Dublin and wrote down my thoughts.

If you’re a writer in any stage, stop and look around you. Pay attention and see things you’ve seen forever and look at them with new eyes and ideas. I’ve driven up and down US1 to the mainland and back too many times in the last 20 years, but I still stare out at the vista and wonder how Mick Murphy would react to such-and-such situation out there on the water or on one of the mangrove island. A good place to hide a body? It makes the ride a lot more interesting.

The opening chapters of Right As Wrong Can Be takes place coming southbound on US1 and the whole ride at night is true . . . accept the bodies and terrified teenage girl.

Keep your eyes open and look around like it’s the first time. You might be surprised.

Now, for the next two days, I will be following the drama playing out in DC. Maybe someone will say something that will kick-start my brian to work toward my ending.

    (I look forward to hearing from you and welcome any comments and suggestions)

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