Saturday, June 20, 2015

On Writing — With A Not So Subtle Self-Promotion

The Last Deets Shanahan
My desk is set into a bay window.  Nothing to see though. The windows stare at a three-story apartment building 20 feet away.  I keep my blinds drawn so that those who live across the way don’t see this old man seemingly to look in their direction hours on end, day and night as I sit at my computer. I suspect that to an extent writers are natural voyeurs, and the activities of strangers a seductive curiosity, but I don’t wish to make others uncomfortable.

For a view beyond the walls of my small apartment, I have a comfortable chair in my small living room, where I can look out over a big chunk of the San Francisco peninsula, greenery, houses on hills and lots of sky. Clouds shape shift all day long. I can watch the fog roll in if it chooses. Birds — parrots, crows, blue jays, hawks, and seagulls  — zip, swoop and rise by.  Occasionally a humming bird will hover near my window, peeking in. The rain used to come. On a clear, sunny day, I can see a bright silver line in the distance. It is the glint of the Bay on the horizon.

That’s my world, except for what goes on inside my head. What goes on there makes up most of my conscious life.  And it is almost all fiction.

All the composition work on my last book, Killing Frost is over now.  Frozen in print.  If I have second thoughts, it is too late. The book is out.  Especially in this case — the book being the last in a series that’s gone on for 25 years, the last sentence is the last sentence in these characters’ lives.

The First Peter Strand
This fall, the first in a new series of shorter books (novellas or novelettes) will roll out. The first is The Blue Dragon. A second in the series is under way. Though I have a little fiddling to do, it’s on the publisher’s list. I’ve just begun the third.

Inside my head, I am a voyeur without fear of discovery  — at least to the extent I understand how the world works. I am a peeping Tom, peeping only into my own open window. I am watching these new characters form, hearing them talk, learning what they think of each other. One of them will die, I suspect, but I am not quite sure of the circumstances yet. 

I am busy inside my head. There is a whole other group of people embroiled in a serious life or death drama. The folks in this unfinished novel have been in this turmoil for years now, an entire story hovering near the end, but still without resolution, much like many of our lives.

Finally, I have my own recollections to make sense of, making sense of the time I was more actively engaged, but less reflective. Perhaps such a book will be of little interest to the world outside my head. But maybe it will settle things when the book is in print and neither the words nor the scenes can no longer be altered by self-interest or failing memory.

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