Monday, September 7, 2009

A Plotter's Take on Labor Day

Happy Labor Day to all! Hope this last holiday of the summer finds you and yours safe and well.

On this day to honor the tireless worker who keep our society running, I humbly present a plotter's way to celebrate. After all, being an author is hard work! And though the benefits are not as demonstrable as the duties performed by teachers, police officers, doctors, firefighters and the members of our armed forces, and many other professions too numerous to name, we writers offer the gift of entertainment--necessary respite from the daily drudgery that weighs on all of us.

So how do I celebrate the joys of my profession this holiday weekend? As many of you already know, I am a staunch plotter (Viva los plotters!). Before I set about working on a manuscript in earnest, I must have a vision of it from beginning to end and all stops in between. Sure, I'll change a character or event as the story requires, but still, I'm pretty faithful to my overall outline. It's the only way I can keep myself focused and produce a complete product.

Though I wouldn't give up my process for the world--it's treated me pretty well thus far--I will admit it's mentally draining. All the obsessing and reviewing. Did I get it right? How will this plot line play out? Why can't I see it? But today, since we're supposed to honor labor by taking a much needed rest, I ignored the voice that drives me to write in such an orderly fashion. I decided to play. Yes, play! Because writing can feel like playing with no more purpose than the joy of linking raw words together, plucking a gem from the ether of jumbled thought. Yes, today, I'm flying by the seat of my pants and enjoying it immensely.

Here's what I've come up with so far and, if I do say so myself, I can't wait to see what happens next. But I peeking! Wish me luck :)

Flashing red lights and sirens—death came cloaked in garish, noisy trappings. At least it should have appeared so, but Coulter didn't seem to notice. His gaze already fixed upon some imaginary plane. In this, his final minutes, he remembered the coconut scent of her hair and her cherry-flavored lip gloss. Was it lip gloss? Or lip balm? He couldn't remember. She'd told him once, but he couldn't keep straight the different types of cosmetics she used. As if her beauty needed any enhancement to begin with. He should have told her that, but he hadn't.

You're wasting time, a disembodied voice murmured. Her voice.

It occurred to him that all his time had been wasted. Foolish, self-aggrandizing bravado wrapped in a veneer of lofty ideals. And he'd never taken the time to tell her why he'd left. Did she know? She had to know. She knew the intimate details of his mind. Still, he should have told her. But he hadn't.

He fought against the unwelcome teardrops that flooded his eyes. He would not allow himself to die as a blubbering coward. Dying well, that was all he had left to hold onto, the last shred of his pride. The coming darkness held no pain and to his surprise, he was not afraid. Regret. Therein lay the anguish. So many regrets.

A wet cough brought up a bitter mouthful of sputum and blood. It wouldn't be long now. Coulter pressed his face against the cool marble floor. He wished it were warmer. Flash, screech. Flash, wail. Flash, screech. Flash, wail. Yes, death came cloaked in garish, noisy trappings. Shut it out and remember the coconut scent of her hair. Katrina.


Aubrey Leatherwood said...

I like it!

Oh... and Viva los Pantsers!


Cindy Jacks said...

Okay, okay. Viva los Pantsers, too. At least for today, lol.