Monday, August 24, 2020

Writing Distractions and Building Tension

I have a confession to make.  Other than this blog, I haven’t written a word in three days.

I’m easily distracted and the last few days have kept me from being creative.  First of all, the obvious distraction is the pandemic…and the upcoming election.  The Democratic Convention was this past week and that kept me glued to the television. 

Well, that and the new Perry Mason reboot on HBO.  I highly recommend it.

Then, on an upside, I received an email from a former student who told me I’d inspired her to finish her novel. She told me that after finishing the class, she went back and completely rewrote her first chapters.  Then she asked what her next step should be.

I gave her my phone number and told her to call me.  I advised her to get a beta reader to take a look and then, if she can afford it, a professional editor to help find typos and punctuation mistakes.  Then I told her how I found an agent.  I also told her to keep in touch. 

That was a nice distraction.

Then on Thursday, I got up at 4:30 to take my wife to a surgical center for a minor procedure.  They said it would take about three hours and they wanted me close by so the instructions were that I should stay in the parking lot.  I brought a Harlan Coben mystery to pass the time. 

About a half hour into my vigil, sitting in the North Carolina heat and humidity, I went to start my car, a hybrid, and discovered that my battery had died.  Calling my mechanic, he told me that the soonest he could get a battery for my car would be a week from then.

I was feeling the tension.

I called an Uber, went home, and got my wife’s car.  An hour later, I was driving her home.  The rest of the day, I forgot about my car and looked after her recovery.

The next day, I called Triple A, gave them my information, and they told me to call them again when I was in the same place as my car.  I drove across our high-rise bridge to the mainland and back to the surgical center to find that the road was blocked off with police officers and ambulances everywhere.  I could see that my car was the only one in the parking lot, because the center had been evacuated.  Police barriers prevented me getting anywhere near my car with a tow truck.

A police officer told me to come back in an hour. 

More tension. And a plot twist.

An hour later, they had extended the lockdown area and now there was a SWAT team onsite.  When I again asked an officer about my car, he told me it wouldn’t be before tomorrow.

Even more tension.

But out of adversity comes opportunity.  I have a work in progress and I’ve been a little dissatisfied with it. 

That’s when it came to me. It needs more tension!

And I need fewer distractions.

So, on Saturday, I had my car towed, the mechanic told me I might get my battery much earlier than he had predicted, my wife is recovering well, and I’m writing again.  And the SWAT team thing?  The press release was maddeningly vague.  Someone had threatened themselves with harm.

And they lockdown four city blocks? And have a SWAT team onsite?  That individual must have threatened to harm themselves with a nuclear weapon.

Just kidding.  It all ended peacefully.  Happy ending. 


Sailorbuoy said...

Would not think the Convention this week will cause a distraction if we're not watching it!

Sybil Johnson said...

Well, you had rather an exciting week. I haven't written much in the last week, either, but I really don't have much of an excuse. Nice that a student of yours contacted you. I bet that felt good.

Thomas Kies said...

Sybil Johnson...something like that makes it all worthwhile.