This blog is linked to my author web site. It's an outlet, an update, a place for a writer to rant and perhaps take solace in the fact that there are other writers out there experiencing the same joy, malaise, exhaustion, etc.
For five minutes, this past Tuesday, while innocently sitting in on job interviews for a position in the English department, I was wanted by the police.
That's right. A fugitive. Here's the story. The names have not been changed to protect the guilty.
It began as an ordinary day. We had already interviewed a couple prospective teachers, and were in the midst of questioning another, when I noticed my Blackberry (set to quiet, of course) jump to life. The first time it went off, the number registered from home. No big deal, I thought, probably my wife, Beth, checking to see how things were going. Within a minute of that call, the tiny screen flashed a second call, this time from Beth's cell. Something was up.
So, between candidates, I ducked out in the hall and called.
She answered, breathless.
"Someone's in the house!"
"I turned on my cell phone and there was a voice mail. Some guy with a creepy voice saying he was in the house! I grabbed the dogs, jumped in the van and called my mom."
I stood in the dark hall dumbfounded. "Someone's in the house?"
It took a second for my wife's words to register, and being married to her for fourteen years I responded in a manner customary of someone married to another person that long. I burst out laughing.
"What?! It's not funny!"
I laughed so hard my eyes teared. As the kids would text: LMAO. ROFL. It took several seconds to gather enough breath to respond. "Beth, that's me."
"That's me on the voice mail."
"What?!" she repeated.
"Don't you remember at the restaurant yesterday? We wanted to see if your phone was working okay? I was sitting right across from you and called your cell, left a message on your voice mail: 'I'm in the house!'"
"Oh my God," she finally said.
"Yeah, now do you remember?"
"I think so. I wasn't really listening to you."
"Weren't listening to me?'
"Well, no, I mean, you know-- Oh no."
"I called the state police. They're on the way."
"You called the cops?"
"Yes, my mom told me to get out of the house and call the police!"
"Your mom told you to call the cops on me?" Obviously the mother-in-law/son-in-law relationship had taken a turn for the worse.
"She didn't know it was you!"
"Yeah, but--" The next candidate was entering the room.
"I gotta go," she said. The connection went dead.
So, I returned to the room, smiling and shaking the candidate's hand, and I sat through the questioning while my head swirled with images of Dirty Harry bursting into the room, .44 Magnum drawn, staring me down.
Truth be told, it's been a while since I've written anywhere.
To update the last couple months, my agent put me in touch with an independent editor that read the manuscript. I spent 45 minutes on the phone hearing his comments and suggestions, all the while playing back the other comments I received from the publishing houses.
All of the advice I have received is different.
I'm so confused where to take the novel. It's been a down few months. The market is getting worse. The publishing houses more selective than ever, and everyone is telling me to turn in a different direction.
So, I hung up the phone facing the task of rewriting the novel for the summer.
Since the phone call, I've spent hours poring through the manuscript seeing where to cut, where to add.
I've come to the realization that slight tweaks here and there aren't going to do it.
Surgery is needed.
So, for the last few weeks I've been in a mental trance trying to summon some inspiration, some light to illuminate where I can unearth the real story behind my story. Nothing. Nada.
Until the other morning. I awoke with the words on the tip of my mind. I had traveled to that magical place where writers sometimes go, the one between half-sleep, half-awake. A new character was born. Inserted in just the right spot of the storyline. A new thread in the tapestry, yadda, cliche, yadda.
I'm letting the characters take control. Letting them change the story.
So, suddenly, in the last few days I find that I'm through chapter five.