3 min read

The Difficult Life of a Novelist

I tried to look tough. Two guys with their sleeves cut off were walking a super vicious dog across the street at the corner. I steered my vehicle into the turn, windows down. I knew from my days on the streets: sleevelessness always means business.
The Difficult Life of a Novelist

*Aspiring

I tried to look tough. Two guys with their sleeves cut off were walking a super vicious dog across the street at the corner. I steered my vehicle into the turn, windows down. I knew from my days on the streets: sleevelessness always means business.

Photo by Gilberto Reyes from Pexels

As I rounded the bend, thinking I was actually pulling off the I am the one who knocks persona, when I realized that Jordan Smith’s “Only Love” was blasting loudly out of my minivan.

“It’s my daughter’s mix tape! I just dropped her off at the school!” I hollered. But it was too late. I could hear them laughing as I sped away.

I went home to sit on the front porch. I opened my laptop and got to work on my fantasy novel about the elves and the magic portal. At least I got this, I thought to myself. And this thing’s gonna sell. It’s gotta sell! I’m on my last foil packet of tuna and my son just asked for new shoes. I wanted to talk with my wife about the shoes this morning while she fixed her hair, but all she said when I walked in was, “did you just fart?” and it threw me off.

“Of course not!” I challenged defensively. “I always smell like this.” I’ll think of a better comeback later today, and lob it at her this evening. She won’t know what I am talking about. But I’ll know. I’ll know who won the battle of wittiest retort. L'esprit d'escalier, baby.

All these people walking by my house, walking their dogs and babies and fitnessing, don’t they have jobs? I reach past my coffee for another clutch of grapes, observing the people of my neighborhood. Don’t these people have somewhere to be? I wonder, enjoying the succulent, sweet fruit bursting between my teeth.

The map to my fantasy world sits nearby on the wicker end table. I don’t know how to get my protagonist the elf, in the top corner of the map, past the bad guys, back down to the village. My fingers prone on the keyboard, my eyes watching the outdoor banana leaf ceiling fan slowly rotate in the breeze.

Which reminds me of a thing I love about reading books. It’s always delighted me to see how authors solve the ridiculously difficult situations they’ve created for themselves.

Did they already have the answer before they painted themselves into a corner? Or did they figure it out in a moment of tactical genius long after? Are they showering and suddenly realize, mid-loofah, how their hero escapes the shark-filled lagoon while submerged with both hands tied to a lead safe?

That’s it! Chase quickly rubs his hands across the coral reef, severing his bonds, then uses the blood from a snapper fish he ripped into pieces to distract the sharks as he swims to freedom.

I’d never write something like that. Again. Because I just wrote it. Besides, Chase isn’t a very good name for a hero. But how long should I spend thinking up good names for action heroes? Isn’t forty minutes enough?

Some authors, I notice, fudge a bit. Their characters are in dire straits, backs up against the wall, lasers sighted on their unprotected heads, when suddenly the hero detonates an outward blasting pulse field which oh I didn’t mention they had strapped to their wrists the whole time. Cheaters.

My elf will not have an outward facing pulse field. She is going to escape using good old fashion reality, folks. Probably something like a magic wand I forgot to mention she had with her that summons a demon blaster, who will eat the brains of the bad guys and then the elf can go back to her village, returning a hero. There. It’s got “best seller” written all over it. My first 200 words are done and done.

Sigh. Busy day, isn’t it? I need some me time. Maybe a scone.