One problem I have, which may not be much of a problem but a problem nevertheless, is that while I revise one book I have ideas for other books. Generally I spend some time jotting down the random thoughts and eventually pursue them. But occasionally, they never turn into anything more than an idea of strange origin. Still, it leads to wonder whether the ideas might have turned out better had I pursued them with vigor immediately upon having them. You know how ideas fade into the background like the vapors from a dream that seemed so nice at the time.
When you’re a writer you gotta be selective about the ideas you allow to draw your attention, though. At least that’s true for me. I have some pretty bizarre thoughts at times – just ask anyone who knows me. That come’s with the territory, I guess. Writers are notorious for not being normal. I believe every true writer is absolutely fine with that. After all, who wants to be normal?
As an example of how my writer’s mind works: this morning I was out walking Rocco, my son’s American Bulldog. A car drove by going a good bit over the speed limit and swerving to avoid cars parked the street, As it was Sunday morning I wondered why the guy was driving so recklessly?
Late for Church? I’m inclined to think that unless you’re a member of the choir or a minister, deacon or something, you would not be rushing for that reason. Churches are places of forgiveness, aren’t they? I’m pretty sure oversleeping would fall into one of the things to be forgiven.
Going to the store? Who i in a hurry to do that – at least from a guy’s perspective? Really – unless it’s a special sale like on Black Friday, or something, when all the crazies are out and about looking for that $100 big screen TV or the $200 laptop computer, a guy would not be driving like that.
Late for work? Yeah, that might be it. Costing money and perhaps a job if he shows up late for work just one more time… I could see that.
Some other unexpected emergency, perhaps. Someone is sick, in the hospital or maybe his best friend is in jail and he needs to post bail.
Who knows? But how many stories could come from those thoughts?
That’s how a writer’s mind works. But in addition to those thoughts here’s how my mind worked this morning:
He’s hell on wheels – which reminded me of a Paul McCartney and Wings song that’s kind of a play on that Helen Wheels. As the chorus of the song replayed through my mind for a few bars it reminded me of a girl I knew back in high school, though she didn’t attend my high school. Her name was Helen.
Helen was actually from Troy, which a city in Ohio. She was a friend of a girl I dated for a while in my junior year who lived in Tipp City, a town fairly close to Troy. Both of those towns were over an hour from where I lived, by the way, and how I met them…well I’ll get to some of that later.
Anyway, I used to call Helen from Troy, Helen of Troy, as in the face that launched a thousand ships. Read Homer’s Iliad if you don’t know that story. Her father was named Homer, which I thought was hilarious when I learned that, not to mention that her mother actually named her for Helen of Troy and her sister was Cassandra. For those who have never read about the war between Troy and Greece over the abduction of Helen, with whom Paris, Prince of Troy, fell in love… Well, Cassandra was Paris’ sister who was psychic and foresaw the Greeks sacking Troy. What could one expect when the beautiful wife of a Greek King is stolen away? I’m not sure how much psychic ability that really took.
So, I’ll bet you’re thinking, what was the name of the mother of Helen and Cassandra? Something like Athena might have made sense and it would make for a better story than the truth. She has a plain old name, Anne. Her friends called her Annie, like Little Orphan Annie. Seriously, that’s how she introduced herself. Now, if I were writing a story about her family I’d make her name something like Minerva, just to make things more interesting. Yeah, I know she was a Roman goddess, but still, I like the name.
After my mind processed all that in about the span of two heartbeats – three tops – I was still considering the reckless driver who, by then, had rounded the corner and driven well out of sight. Rocco, having sniffed out a fine enough place for doing his business, downloaded on a neighbor’s front lawn and, as our neighborhood has a strict rule about cleaning up after dogs, I extracted a plastic bag dispensed from a roll attached to the back of the recoiling dog leash, and used it to pick up the pooch’s poop.
We continued our morning jaunt, Rocco and I, though I was still thinking about Helen of Troy, the girl I knew during high school – not the one in the Iliad – and of course that started me thinking about her friend, the one I dated for a while who lived in Tipp City. Her name was Angela. I guess one of the things guys do – and maybe gals as well – is think about the ones that got away (or perhaps ran away). She was a cheerleader, of course. That was how I met her and having met her I ended up meeting her friend, Helen.
My school was at a weekend wrestling tournament, the Indian Lake Invitational. Angela caught my eye and, quite unlike me, I ended up introducing myself. She was not impressed or even remotely interested, which was fine. I was used to receiving similar reactions from every girl who caught my eye and I bothered to talk to . But over the course of the weekend tournament, we continued bumping into one another, literally at times. It was sort of funny after the fourth or fifth time and to her mind it could not be coincidence. She accused me of following her around. Not that there wouldn’t have been good reason or that, but I swear I wasn’t. However, I countered, accusing her of stalking me. She laughed. “Why would I do that?”
“You tell me.”
Nothing further happened but about a month later, our teams were at another tournament and I saw her in passing. “So, where have you been?” I asked her.
“You do that well.”
“Yeah, so what brought you out of hiding?”
“I don’t know. I guess I needed to do the cheerleading thing again.”
“Funny how that happens, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, pretty much every week.”
We talked a few times that weekend and learned that we had next to nothing in common. Regardless of that, she told me she was going to be in Springfield the following week for a meet against one of the local schools. I told her if I could make it there after practice I’d come to the meet.
I made it to the meet. We talked some more. We exchanged phone numbers and, as a result, dated for a while. Thankfully gasoline was a lot less expensive back then. Even so, my parents complained, asking me why I couldn’t date someone who lived closer. I don’t know, it just seems like sometimes you aren;t attracted to local girls, you know?
By the time all of that had played out in my mind, Rocco and I had rounded the block and, for whatever reason, he decided he needed to run, jerking the leash from my hand in the process. He doesn’t run away, just playfully goes around circles, teasing me to pursue him. Still, it aggravated me enough that I refused to give him his usual treat this morning. He’s sort of mad at me now.
As for the story about Helen of Troy and Angela, I wrote a book that is loosely based on some of that. I’ll get around to revising that one sooner or later. Until then, I’m sure I’ll have a gazillion other random ideas, some of which I may jot down. My current focus is still Book 10 of The Wolfcat Chronicles. I’m on Chapter 22 of the revision.
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