Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Dotted Line

This is the working title of my newest manuscript. To be honest with you, it was a right brained decision, so any reasons I'd give will probably change before I'm through with the book. The outline itself has taken some unexpected turns in its development and I'm more than a little excited about this project.

I've never discussed my work with family in a very specific fashion, though they are all aware that one character killed a bad guy with chopsticks (which the boys think is just great-so much so that they gave me a set of chopsticks to keep on my desk, just in case any magical sociopaths astral-project into my office). But they are all suddenly old enough to be curious about the entire story and this evening they began asking questions. After some hesitation on my part, largely because the subject matter is somewhat mature--dealing very directly with family, infidelity, and murder, I gave them a verbal synopsis. A universal "oh cool" erupted from the crowd. The next thing I knew, ideas were flying back and forth--many of them remarkably useful. While I firmly believe that group-think is bad for books (which is why I didn't go back to the writer's group), and that writing is best alone, at dawn, when no one is looking, I guess I know where to go if I get hung up.

I don't usually do this at this stage, but I'm going to post the first page (if it disappears later and you missed it and are curious, email me and I'll send it to you).

Nine am to Nine-ten: Make the coffee.
Nine-ten to Nine-twenty-five: shower and dress.
Nine-twenty-five to Nine-forty: Stare futilely into the mirror willing time to open up and swallow your mistakes. And if not them, then you.
Nine-forty to Ten am: Give up on time travel and take your husband his coffee.
Ten am to ten-o-one: Admit to your husband that you've had an affair.
Ten-o-one to forever: Try to pick up the pieces of your marriage.


It began with the smallest of infractions. A cup of coffee over some paperwork that needed to be signed, a conversation that ended with an all around feel-good, god aren't we both funny, on the same wavelength, in the same boat, under the same rainspout, laughter. A couple of emails, a phone call, another phone call. Some texting. And the worst infraction of them all—admitting to the loneliness of being married to someone who did not understand her.

Nora was a grown up. She knew the playing field of marriage and relationships and where the boundary lines were. The ball flew out of bounds the moment she admitted to this man, this client, that she was not contented with her marriage. And she followed it, with every intention of throwing it back in before the umpires noticed. Before the pressure grew too great.

But that was the weird thing about it. No one seemed to notice or care that her lunch hour was often two, or how easily a fourth of the appointments on her calendar didn't seem to result in new clients. Perhaps after twenty years of marriage people think you're immune and they don't watch you as closely. Or maybe it's that you're forty-something and slightly over-weight with three kids and a mortgage. Maybe they assume that no one would want you.

On a side note, I've just finished tweaking Troubled_Waters for what I hope is the final time. The first chapter is fixed. At this point I'm subbing it on principle. After all the work, and all the support, it seems silly not to.


Scotty said...

Ooooh, time travel - I'm intrigued.


Ray Veen said...

Very very nice Mary. I liked this a lot.