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Wow. I have a plot.

And a theme or two. And an opportunity for Great Evil!

It was an accident, I swear. One of those hippie-dippie things I do that everybody thinks are out of character (so blame the author, I say) worked out better than I expected it to.

As foster-kid Paul puts it, what had happened was: I got slightly stuck & didn’t want to keep writing. The short version here is that I’d screwed something up and was going in the wrong direction somehow. Only, just like every other time this has happened, I convinced myself all I needed was to figure out what to do next. And not even big-picture stuff…just write the next line, and it’ll inspire another, and so on. Sort of like (road-trip analogy alert!) driving at night. Your headlights don’t illuminate a huge area, but if you just keep going you can cross a continent that way.

So, in the absence of the small-scale good sense I should have internalized by now & actually needed to deal with this specific problem (in other words I needed to back up & figure out where I’d gone wrong, delete as needed, and proceed), I decided to try listening to some “affirmations” Lawrence Block—from whom I also stole that headlights/continent analogy, by the way, which is a hell of a thing to admit—once recorded for his “Write for your Life” seminars. Which I didn’t attend.

Now…I don’t know that these would work for everybody. It probably helps a lot that I love his fiction, so I’m willing to listen to what he says about the creation thereof. And it probably helps that he’s said an awful lot on the topic, in many columns (which I’ve never read) and collected into a few books (which I’ve multiply devoured). Plus, I met him once at a book signing in San Antonio, and he’s sort of an icon to me. So…I listen to him, literally, when I play the mp3 files.

Of course there was a detour—I didn’t have the files handy. They’re probably on an external drive back in our apartment, or maybe on a hard drive in our cabin, but at any rate they weren’t with me. So I spent $10 to buy them again during lunch the day before yesterday. But I didn’t get them until yesterday, because sometimes internet transactions are dumber than they need to be.

Meanwhile I realized my actual problem was that I’d described something I should have shown. IOW I needed a scene with action & characters instead of more-boring exposition. It was only a couple of paragraphs at fault, and at some point I’ll be smart enough to know immediately what’s going on when my fingers refuse to move, but obviously that ain’t yet. So I fixed it and soldiered on.

But then…yesterday at lunch I got the affirmations on my laptop. And I listened to them [NUMBER REDACTED] times, back at the RV. And I thought of a better way to handle that scene. And I realized I could ignore the tentative plan I’d been forming and instead keep the rest of the book consistent with a factoid I’d “accidentally” dropped in, in the first few sentences of the novel. And…I could set the book (in my mind) in a town I’ve lived in, a town against which I had a grudge, a town that once nearly frustrated me into running for office.

And I could fucking blow that town away. In fiction. And probably with a few names changed, serial numbers filed off, and whatever. In a later draft. For me, right now, this book is right where it needs to be.

So…I acquired a Master Plan. Which may change, of course.

Did I burn incense whilst listening to the affirmations? Or at least light a few candles? Were there an unusual number or severity of animal or human sacrifices? At which point(s) were I or other participants, if any, nekkid and howling at the moon with our bloody teeth pointed somewhat south of west? Was that a dust storm here in the East? Or mere grave-dirt, greenly unpiled upon a breeze?

Not all will be revealed herein, of course. There are (un)holy covenants involved, and also if I told you exactly what to do you’d just write your own books instead of reading mine.

But rest assured: I now have a vague notion of what I may or may not be doing. And it’s all thanks to Larry Block. Blame him, if you must have a scapegoat. Blame him.

Meanwhile I need to clean up a bit.

Be safe out there.

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