But Did We Get Any Writing Done?
Now you’re probably wondering, did you do any writing?
We did. More importantly for me, we worked on plotting. I’m tackling a new book, and I like having a pretty good idea where my story is going. I filled up page after page in my notebook with suspects, background, and other details. But I wasn’t happy with the general direction. I wanted to write a book about redemption, a love story, set on Kiawah Island SC, and the mystery portion had taken over. So, I talked with my pals, and by the end of the trip, I felt much more clarity—in fact, I came home eager to get my ideas down.
To keep ourselves fresh, to get exercise, and to refuel our creative juices, we took “field trips.” We visited Judy’s neighbor, Gary, and met his pet raccoons. (He bought them from a licensed raccoon breeder after getting permission from the authorities.) Gary is a modern day “mountain man,” whose motto is “it’s better to be hated for who you really are than to be loved for who you are not.”
That’s an important idea. When you write, in order to be successful, you have to find who (or what) your book really is. (I know, sounds weird, but it’s true.) You peel away layers to discover the essence, the message and theme. Otherwise, you are simply tossing words around, willy-nilly. I needed this time to really dig down deep. To discover why this particular idea intrigued me, and how I needed to proceed so I could do my best work.
I write mysteries because I appreciate having a structure. I also like the fact that every mystery has at its heart a wrong that must be put right. There is to be a REASON behind the activity within the book, and that REASON is always the same: Tikkun Olem, which is Hebrew for “repair of the world,” the fixing of that which is wrong. We are coming up upon the Jewish High Holy Days. It’s a special time of year where we are required to think of the wrongs we’ve down, and how to make amends, to make things right.
A very good time of year, I think, to begin a new mystery.