I don’t know if many of you are familiar with the work of Iris DeMint. One of her songs in particular has always spoken to me:
Sweet is the melody
So hard to come by,
So hard to make
Every note blend just right.
You lay down the hours
Without a trace
’Til a tune for the dancing
Is there in its place.
Writing books is the same thing—you lay down the hours without a trace, or at least, I do. Some of those hours are spent sitting here in my writing chair in the family room as I am just now, with my computer on my lap, my fingers on the keyboard, and with Mary and JoJo lying side by side on the hassock next to my knee. By the way, Mary has little patience with all this keyboarding stuff. When she reaches her limit, she comes over, puts her long doxie nose between my fingers and the keyboard, and brings typing to a sudden and complete stop.
Other hours are devoted to thinking about the story rather than typing in words. Those can happen when I’m driving my grandson to youth group or getting my steps. By the way, both inside steps and outside steps apply here. When characters become recalcitrant and won’t do what I need them to do to move the story forward, I often end up tossing and turning in bed for hours on end, an activity I refer to as “wrestling with the devil.” By the way, Mary doesn’t approve of that very much, either.
I learned early on in my writing career that characters don’t always do as they’re told. In the second Beaumont book, Injustice for All, I was seventy pages from the end of the story when I discovered that the person I thought was the killer didn’t do it. Readers were probably surprised when they discovered the identity of the bad guy. I know I was!
So here I am creeping up on the end of the next Ali book, Unfinished Business. I figured out some time ago that due to the location and the nature of the storyline, J.P. Beaumont would be making a cameo appearance in this book. The Beaumonts are written in the first person–in his voice and through his distinctive point of view. The Ali books are written in third person. My assumption was that in this book Beau’s part would be written in third person as well. Boy was I wrong about that! As soon as it was time for him to show up, there he was in all his curmudgeonly first person glory.
First person is how I know him, from the inside out. That’s how he’s been from the beginning, and it turns out I really couldn’t teach that old dog any new tricks.
It’s Wednesday. I have probably three more tiny chapters to write. By Friday of this week Unfinished Business should be finished. Maybe we’ll go out to celebrate. That’s what we usually do.
Oh, wait. It’s still Covid Season around here. Maybe we’ll celebrate the same way we celebrated our wedding anniversary years ago when we were snowed in. That anniversary dinner consisted of champagne and Honey Nut Cheerios.
Whatever we do, it’ll be A-Okay!
And then it’ll be time to start another book and lay down a few more hours without a trace.