Dorothy Cannell: This coming Thursday morning my husband and I will be setting off on a drive to Washington, D.C.; well, a little disagreement regarding the day. I claim that a 4 a.m. departure makes it Wednesday night. That’s what procrastinators (of which I am a pitiful case) do – waste crucial seconds splitting hairs. Actually I prefer the term shilly-shallier because it doesn’t sound so clinical. Whatever! I should be reveling in anticipation of departure because we will be attending that wonderful annual mystery conference Malice Domestic; but I have done it to myself again – put time to the gallop while I’m still desperately trying to get done what should have been accomplish days, weeks, months, years ago.
I wrote in last month’s blog that I was working on a short story. This was true. I endeavor not to lie outside of fiction and I did have two paragraphs completed. It was a plot I’d had in mind for going on half a century and should have been a snap. But then I began agonizing over whether I should employ a double twist at the end and spent several weeks mooning around the house debating the issue – because it would have turned my protagonist into a murderer in addition to the one I already had lined up for the job.
Then came the cowardly thought – why not set this story aside and do one based on another plot I’d toyed with back in the dark ages. A nudge in this direction came from noting that Down the Garden Path has been selling well as an e-book. It featured the flowers sisters, Misses Hyacinth and Primrose Tramwell, ladies in their sixties who had a penchant for cheating at cards for financial gain in the interest of keeping the roof of their ancestral home over their heads before turning to detection. I would have loved to write more books about them but my publisher preferred I focus on the Ellie Haskell series that began with The Thin Woman. Some fuzzy time back I did do one short story about the flower sisters as I think of them and it now occurred to me that that here was a plot ideally suited to their personalities.
But did I sit write down and bang it out? Of course not! More mooning occurred, but of the twitchy sort because submissions for publication must be received by April 3Oth. Then when I did slither down at the computer I decided I could save time in describing Hyacinth and Primrose by looking up what I said of their physical appearance, mannerisms and speech patters by searching through Down the Garden Path. And then it seemed incumbent to brush up on how I’d portrayed Cloisters, their home, in the village of … something. This turned out to be Flaxy Meade. And I prolonged my coffee break thinking how charming that name sounded. Then insidiously the question crept in as to whether it was plagiarism to crop sentences from one’s own work. I thought about presenting this legal concern to my retired lawyer husband. But would he
expect a fee which I would be obligated to disclose to the I.R.S.? Also a wife can be limitedly demanding and I needed him as my go-to authority on the game of bridge, seeing the story opens with one and all I know on the subject is that it involves cards, some red, some black.
On a positive note the Post Office has this glorious thing – overnight delivery. But anxiety still hovers. I’ll have to pack, which means searching through the closet that I’ve been thinking about organizing for – well let’s not say how long – for clothing suitable for the light of day, let alone going on a trip. Shoes are the biggest problem, most being singles because their partners, having grown fed up with neglect, have run away.
I’m going to reform. Or at least I’m thinking about it, while wondering if I shouldn’t have written the story I first thought about. Oh, well! Another day, another week, another month …