What Was I Thinking? – A Mystery Writer’s Confession
Writing Fiction –
Looked simple enough. Write a mystery novel. Hire an agent. Get published. Find a writer’s retreat in the woods or by the sea, and do nothing but write. As it turns out, that’s a fine piece of fiction all by itself. Makes you wonder how Hemmingway did it. But then, he committed suicide.
Now, in my fifth year as a professional mystery writer, I’ve written and published three mystery/thrillers with a fourth nearing completion—all part of the ongoing Lance Underphal Mystery series. I’ve yet to hire an agent, which in hindsight is a good thing; and doing nothing but writing mystery books in the woods or by the sea remains a pipedream—not sure if we’re talkin’ opium or crack, but a pipedream, nonetheless.
Readers Have It Easy –
One of the consequences of writing professionally is the resultant deflowering of my reader naiveté. Peaking behind the publishing curtain, one discovers the Wizard of Oz is more humbug than great and powerful—an unfortunate but necessary insight into writing professionally.
Take it for what it’s worth, once the bestseller illusion evaporates, there’s nothing left but smoke and mirrors. Most readers are unaware that “bestseller” statuses are typically manufactured as a publisher’s promotional tool. (Oops . . . Ignore that man behind the curtain!)
The deep dark secret—shhh . . . don’t let this one out of the bottle—it’s not about money. The true reward is transformational, transcending the mundane capitalist world of fear and greed. A writer becomes the djinn, casting magic spells for the enjoyment of readers.
Taking One for the Team –
While I’m still a voracious reader, I view written works as a source of education and inspiration, rather than reading for the sheer pleasure of it. Additionally, the effort required to find books and/or authors worth the investment of time sets a much higher bar. Sad, perhaps, but worth the sacrifice.
Is writing fiction for a living everything it appears? Hell no. But then, what is?
From what I hear about sausage-making, writing for a living is strikingly similar to watching meat grinders stuff sausage skins. All most folks care about is the finished product.
Still, if you insist . . .
My Advice to Would-be Writers –
In summary, here’s my standard answer to one of the most common interview questions I’m asked:
If you can do anything else besides writing, do that. If you can’t, learn the craft of writing, and learn the business of publishing and marketing. Then write and keep writing, no matter what.
Your input is always appreciated.
Publisher: CreateSpace (January 20, 2015)
Series: A Lance Underphal Mystery
Buy: Amazon, Kindle, The Book Depository
GREY DAZE descends. A fresh murder spins out of control, twisting into new realms of paranormal mystery.
Not for the faint of heart, the third in the Lance Underphal Mystery series, is an interplay of corrupt characters immersed in today’s world. Paranormal twists and fast action in movie-like scenes set the story’s mystery/thriller elements apart from the typical whodunit/serial-killer thriller.
Guided by his dead wife, a reluctant psychic finds himself on a wild ride through a criminal underworld, slamming face first into corrupt police, gunrunning bikers, and a drug addicted killer–not to mention confrontations with the dead.
Layers of plots within plots twist this new thriller into a startling climax.
Please Note: this book “R” rated and is intended for adult readers.
Born and raised at the edge of the high desert in Kingman, Arizona, Michael Allan Scott resides in Scottsdale with his wife, Cynthia and their hundred-pound Doberman, Otto. In addition to writing mysteries and speculative fiction, his interests include music, photography, art, scuba diving and auto racing.
From the fourth chapter, entitled “The Precipice”
“Late afternoon and the desert is alive, still fresh after a morning rain. A cactus wren scolds me as I pass, derailing my dark thoughts. Sand and gravel crunch under my scuffed work boots in hypnotic rhythms. I’m startled by a sudden blur off to the left as a jackrabbit flushes from under a yucca and bounds off out of sight. I trudge up the arroyo, head down, determined to walk it out. Reminds me of the first time I ran away from home. I guess I was about six. Announcing my displeasure to my mother, I was determined to set out on my own, make my own rules, live free. She obliged by packing my lunch for the big adventure. I was back before dark. Have to laugh, she knew me too well. A wry smile crosses my face as I shake my head at the memory and continue up the arroyo. It’s been awhile since I thought of her. She’s been gone a few years now. I miss her.
I climb up one of the gully’s steep sides, crumbling hardpan layered with caliche. Scrabbling on my hands and knees the last few feet, I’m up and out, onto a finger ridge that crests at a cliff’s edge. I look down the sheer cliff face. Craggy fissures split the volcanic rock into rough-hewn pillars of stone, tumbled boulders far below at its base. Stretching out beneath me, an ancient valley scarred by eons of erosion. I stretch my stiff back, huffing to catch my breath as I gaze across a land formed before time, carved out of rock by wind and weather, as barren as the day it was born. I stand alone at the edge of this vast emptiness, overwhelmed by my insignificance, wondering why.
Sonja’s gentle tone fills my head. “Are you walking away?”
“To the point of no return.”
“You’ve been here before.”
“Seems like I never left.”
“At the edge of the chasm, staring into the abyss . . . step off or turn for home, it’s always a choice,” muses Sonja.
“A choice . . . yet I seem driven, always leaving, never arriving. Do I have a home?” She pauses then whispers, “Yes.”
“Gone now, isn’t it?”
“It’s there, your choice. Just move in that direction.”
“Will I ever get there?”
“One step at time.”
“One step at a time, homeward . . . seems a long way off, like I’m out of time.”
“You have all the time you need. You’ll make it. Faith in yourself, your spirit, your good nature are all you need.”
“You can help—go be with her now. She needs you.”
“Can I go to her . . . without losing you?”
“Of course. You’re coming home to me.”
“I thought it would all be over after the Dr. Manson incident, thought it would die down, be less of a burden.”
“I wish I could tell you it gets easier. Truth is, there’s more ahead than you’ve ever imagined. Good news is, you’re in much better shape now. You can handle it. Have the courage to follow your heart. Go for it—go all the way. Sooner or later you’ll get here. It will all be worth it. I will wait for you.”
I can always tell when Sonja’s gone. My long dead wife, returning from whence she came. Doubtful that she ever goes anywhere in the first place.
I sigh and take a deep breath, ratcheting up my determination. I look out across the harsh land as it crumbles infinitesimally, disintegrating into dust eon after eon, oblivious to any spiritual presence, as though I’m not here. But I don’t care anymore. I’m going for it, going all out, whatever it takes.”
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