Scrambled brains and cheese
Since finishing Home & Away, my little book about the 2014 World Cup, I’ve been thinking about what project to work on next. But making a decision has been difficult. One reason is that it’s so hard to predict what one will be interested in tomorrow, or the next day. If I start working on a story about a gelatinous jellyfish-like creature terrorizing the mental patients at a group home run by leprechauns in the arctic circle, who’s to say that on the next day I won’t be more interested in writing the story of a horde of mechanized zombie-creatures who pose as Manhattan restaurant reviewers in order to infiltrate the high pressure world of professional beach volleyball?
A few years ago, I wrote a novel with four different storylines (only one of which bears any resemblance to the two mentioned above). Four main characters going about their own ordinary lives trying to accomplish all those ordinary things that we all think are so important like finding happiness in love and how to correctly set the timezone on our smart phone. This approach worked since it allowed me to shift from one story to the next depending on who I felt like spending the writing day with. But it was a little like writing four stories at once rather than working on one novel, which seemed like cheating. But since I’m doing this for fun, the only person harmed by my cheating is myself.
Sunday afternoon (an unseasonably hot day for a February on Long Island) I walked up to Callahan’s to watch the Barcelona match. Also, I was hoping to run into the Preacher. It had been a while since I’d seen him and I was starting to get concerned that something might have happened to him involving mechanized zombie restaurant reviewers in swim trunks.
As I walked down the hill from my house on Fisher’s Way into the inner harbor of Long Neck village, I considered my options. Of course, I wanted to continue writing novels. Even if they didn’t sell well and I felt as if Arthur was doing me a favor publishing them in limited print runs to minimize his capital losses, I still enjoyed writing novels. That’s why I wanted to become a writer in the first place, it was that boyhood vision of a shelf full of slim paperbacks with my name on the spines that drove me to sit at my desk on Saturday and Sunday afternoons when all the other boys and girls were out playing in the sun to write stories with titles like “The Bug-eyed Salesman of Tragicon Six” and “The Vampire Only Bites Twice.” There I was, age eleven, slumped over a desk clutching a pencil and scribbling furiously away inventing worlds with squiggles of graphite. Thirty-six years later and I’m still playing like I did when I was a kid. There are worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon. Like sitting in a bar watching soccer with all the other drunks.
“Hey Doug!” I said when I walked into Callahan’s. Doug grunted and raised a shot glass in my general direction. I glanced around taking informal attendance. “Have you seen the Preacher lately?” I asked Doug as I stepped up to the bar.
“I saw two of him the other day,” said Doug.
“Really? When was that? Twos-day?”
Doug shook his head slowly. He was thinking. “No, it was on Friday,” he said.