Thursday, May 24, 2018

Scratching an itch

It’s how you determine which books become series. I call it “the itch.” It’s when the characters you were finished with –– or thought you were –– tap you on the shoulder and look at you with a head-cock and a smirk that tells you they know something you don’t: even if you thought you were done with them, they weren’t finished with you.

It’s how I wrote five novels set on the PGA tour and three more set among the day-to-day life of US Border Patrol agents.

I sent my latest book off to my agent a month ago, went on with my life (more on that later), but got the itch. The characters have returned, and now they’re pacing. One is even looking at his watch, wondering when we’re getting back to work.

The new book was fun to write, a way to channel my alter ego. I’m a boarding school teacher and administrator. The book features a husband and wife team and is set at a New England boarding school. The husband, an English teacher who eyes typical administrative structures with distrust and maybe even disdain, is the protagonist; the wife, the newly-appointed head of school, has her hands full breaking the glass ceiling and keeping her spouse in check.

Now she’s eyeing me like an unhappy boss, and he’s pacing. They’ve even brought me a new (and interesting) plot. Let’s go, buddy. Time’s a wastin’.

So I’ve begun. Tepidly. I wrote a brief synopsis (no more than what would appear as a jacket description). While running, I’ve thought about who the new players will be, where the characters in the last book are now, and where all of them might journey.

It’s the itch. And it’s when I know it’s time to begin again.

As an aside, I’ve always enjoyed solitary activities: writing, golfing (alone, in the evenings or at the crack of dawn), fishing, and running. As someone who coaches and spends time with athletes, as a teacher and a father –– Delaney, 20, plays lacrosse at Kenyon College in Ohio, and Audrey, 17, is a distance runner (much faster than her old man; notice you’ll find no mention of my time in the FB post) –– the correlation between endorphins and writing interests me. For instance, I know I write better when I’m running regularly. (Sir Conan Doyle found a way to combine my passions taking long walks on golf courses where he held solitary rounds to plot.)

In the spirit of all this, on Saturday, I posted this.

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