Another World

JCF’s Christmas Play
Pages, 12/11/05: 5
Current Total: 61

The Good News: Got back on the horse Sunday afternoon and battered out pages that begin the conflict.

The Bad News: Later that day, Mom went into the hospital again after a fall.

So weird. I get these serendipitous moments, like being called up for jury duty before I get to the courtroom scene. Then when I get fingers on a keyboard again, something like this happens. It’s like there are opposing forces doing battle over whether or not this play gets written.

But I shouldn’t flatter myself. It’s only a piece of commercial fluff that I’m writing because I saw an opening in the marketplace and came up with a good idea to fill it.

Ah, well.

In the meantime, something manifested itself as all of this was happening over the last couple of days that goes into the “writers cannibalizing their own lives and/or life experiences” and “a brief peek into where authors get those little bits of business that make great characters” categories.

Some years ago, when I decided that the female lead in …and that’s the end of the news was a big Robert Palmer fan, I went out and bought a Robert Palmer greatest hits CD, which I would listen to while writing from time to time. I was never really a huge fan, but his songs were always tolerable, so I held onto it, ripping it into iTunes, and thinking maybe when the book came out I would have a contest and give the CD away along with an autographed copy of the book. That hasn’t happened yet, but that’s backstory.

Friday, on the way home from work, the song playing when I stopped the car was Palmer’s “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight.” I shut the iPod off and went in the house and didn’t start the player up again…

Until driving to work this morning. Keep in mind that this weekend entailed going in to check on my mother at 11:30 on Sunday night and finding that she had fallen, calling the ambulance, driving to the hospital and staying there until just after 6am, coming home sleep deprived with my wife, having breakfast at a small cafe near the house and sleeping until early afternoon, getting up and cleaning up where she’d hit her head and bled all over the rug and bedclothes, not getting to bed early enough on Monday night and dragging out of bed on Tuesday to face the remainder of the work week.

Plugged in the iPod and turned it on and… the rest of “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” by Robert Palmer.

And it seemed so strange. The song brought up this short term associated memory of the feeling of getting home after a week of work and looking forward to the weekend. And the weekend didn’t turn out like any of us had planned, and well, there was Robert Palmer singing the same song, not knowing that my own corner of the world had changed in the 85 hours since the iPod had been turned off.

It seemed so strange. So outdated. So not right. Like it was from a part of my life that was over, and I no longer had use for the song. Like the stuff I used to listen to in high school that was jettisoned over the years. Stuff that was from another world with a different history.

That would have been the end of the story except I’m a writer and everything is fair game. And I thought: I should have this happen to a character. Turn off a song on an mp3 player and he goes into the house and over the course of a weekend his life irrevocably changes – maybe he gets a divorce or someone dies or he loses his job – and when he comes back to the song three days later, it only serves to remind him of how much things in his life changed.

Now there could be a couple of ways to put this to work. I think it would function best as the beginning and ending elements of a chapter, or perhaps even a framing element for an entire novel. At the end of chapter one he turns the song off, and toward the end of the final chapter he turns the song on and is transported.

Interesting, but it needs a venue.

It doesn’t fit into anything I’ve got in the works. But that’s okay.

As any writer and they’ll tell you. The one thing they need that is never in short supply is ideas.

Listening: Paul Simon, “Crazy Love” (via iPod Shuffle)

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