Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Making lemonade out of lemons, Part 497

By Rick Blechta

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it must be like to be sentenced to prison. It doesn’t have to be maximum security, just a place where one can’t leave and has to live by someone else’s rules 24/7.

I’m certain everyone knows from where these thoughts are originating. Here in Toronto, we’ve been under lockdown more or less since Boxing Day, which is an appropriate start to something like this. Even though we can go out to shop for groceries and other things, we are spending most of our time in our homes, a box more or less.

Now I don’t have any experience with being incarcerated, but for 14 years I did work in a summer music camp which ran for 3-4 weeks. Since we only have one car, my wife would drive me up, give me a kiss and take off for home. I was pretty well stuck there since with only two hours off in the afternoon when the campers had recreation and our workday finishing at 9:00 pm, where could we go even if we had transportation? The nearest town was about 30 minutes away.

Even though I enjoyed many aspects of this camp, it did feel pretty claustrophobic. The best I could manage was a walk through some nearby woods. To me, it did feel a bit like prison.

So now I’m feeling that way again, my wife too. Two or three days can go by where I don’t even leave our property. The sidewalks are icy and right now it’s cold, cold, COLD, so even walking in our neighbourhood isn’t too inviting.

Michael Connelly’s most recent book, Law of Innocence (excellent novel, by the way), finds one of his series characters, Mickey Haller, in jail awaiting trial since he hasn’t been granted bail. Connelly paints a pretty good picture of the way being locked up must feel. This supplied additional fuel to my recent thoughts.

Where does my post’s title fit in, though?

Well, the other day I decided I might as well use the way I’m feeling to write some scenes of incarceration as a sort of test bed for future use, get down my thoughts while I’m in the moment.

It’s been very elucidating. In looking at stuff from a few days ago, I feel I’ve captured something worthwhile. Since there’s no immediate need for this material in my WIP, I felt free to just “let ‘er rip” and that freedom has been liberating and shows in what I’ve set down.

Will I use it? Who knows? If I do have the need for prison scenes at some future time, I’ve at least got some useable templates.

So I think this has been worthwhile to do. But it also led to an unexpected reaction: I feel a lot less worse about being cooped up indoors than I did.

And that’s a very good thing.

Stay well everyone!

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