You’re such an ungrateful bitch is what he was thinking. What he said was, “But it’s a great idea.”
And it was. There was no denying the potential of the suggestion that my husband had relayed. And I told him that.
And told him to write it himself.
He was so angry, he did. Why, oh why, couldn’t I just write the damn story he told me to write? Just this once? After him bringing me dozens of stories over time?
For whatever reason, I’ve completely failed to persuade my husband that you have to write the story that’s calling to you. I keep most of his suggestions, in a file. I actually do use some, though not always in the way that he thought I should.
Why? Just me being stubborn and difficult?
Oh, probably. But the truth is, you give two writers a similar plot or scenario and they’ll produce two different stories. Part of how we write has to do with our own style (the much-bandied about phrase de jour, “voice”) and how we see the world and what’s impacting us, to greater or lesser degrees.
I mean, plenty of people write about evil journalists. I understand that, because I’ve known some.
Occasionally people write about journalists with ethics, too. Same thing within the realm of cops. Give different writers the scenario – a cop frustrated by continuously seeing the justice system fail and let killers walk free – and what will be the outcome? One will be a frustrated cop tempted to do the “wrong” thing to make sure someone gets punished (plant evidence, or beat the guy into a wheelchair or something) and one will make the cop a vigilante who kills on the side.
It’s the part of the creative process that has to do with the creator. We all process ideas and shape them differently.
I’m not sure that you can dictate creativity. That’s different from influencing it. Someone could say to me, “Write a story about Ireland” and I’d think about Ireland, my experiences living there, what I’ve read in the news, etc. and eventually, I’d have a story that was inspired by Ireland. Often, for me, that’s all it boils down to, especially with short stories. I give myself one or two simple objectives and move forward from there. With short stories, all I try to do is achieve those goals, which might be, “write a story about a PI” or something.
There are times even a nudge doesn’t work for me. I blogged recently about the Beefcake, Babes, and Blood contest over at Mysterical-E but other pressures and such conspired against me. There were a couple rambling thoughts that had potential, but when I tried to kick-start them into something, they evaporated. That happens sometimes. Even with blog posts. I think I have a great topic, sit down, and realize that it wasn’t even a house of cards, it was two leaning against each other to make a lame teepee, and a fart in the wind could knock it down.
So, what has me on this little kick this morning? Why am I ranting about this at 6 am?
The burning, age-old question: Why doesn’t Peter Robinson set his crime fiction in Toronto? I mean, he chooses to live there, so why not write about it?
Short answer: It doesn’t work that way.
Longer answer: Doesn’t he have the right to set his books wherever he wants?
Why, yes Sandra, he does. Say it with me now.
You see, some people could ask why I’m living in Alberta presently, and writing about Connecticut and BC’s lower mainland.
Because that’s what I’m writing about. Deal with it.
I used New Westminster as the setting for my short story, Fucked Again. I’m pretty sure I never said that anywhere in it, but evilkev enjoyed that. He said, “You had Twitch living in our old apartment!”
Indeed, I did.
And Echoes and Dust begins a series that comes home to Surrey, BC in the sequel (Ashes and Embers).
So, why there instead of here? I mean, Alberta’s got crime. Plenty of crime, actually. Calgary and Edmonton have gang problems. Gun violence is on the rise…
You know what? I don’t have all the answers on it, but right now, it just isn’t here. Part of it, I think, is that BC’s lower mainland is my second home. And being away from there, writing about it helps me process it, maybe it’s my way of trying to understand the paradoxes that are the GVA (Greater Vancouver Area).
I don’t know. Maybe that’s overthinking it. All I know is, when I started that series, I thought about setting. And it was either going to be Ontario, or British Columbia. I did some research, about the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) and RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) because the Ontario setting meant OPP police structure, BC meant RCMP. And what fit for me was RCMP in BC.
I feel bad for Peter Robinson. I actually thought the ‘why don’t you set a book in Toronto?’ question was verboten. But it doesn’t seem to matter – every now and again, he gets the same old tired query.
I’m not writing biographies. Not writing features. Not ghost-writing.
Which means I’m not writing to an assignment, but I’m writing my stories. And dammit, as long as they’re my stories, I’m writing what I’m interested in.
So, “Why not Toronto,” Peter Robinson?
Bet he wishes he could say, “Because. Get over it.”
And what would I say to the reporters?
Twenty years into the Banks series, you still can’t find a new question to ask?
Anyone ever been given grief over something in a story that they just couldn’t change? Told to move it, for example?
Or is it back to Brett, body piercings and latex?
WHO SAYS COPS DON'T HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR?
"Relax, the handcuffs are tight because they're new. They'll stretch out after you wear them awhile."
“Take your hands off the car, and I'll make your birth certificate a worthless document."
"If you run, you'll only go to jail tired."
"Can you run faster than 1,200 feet per second? In case you didn't know, that is the average speed of a 9 mm bullet fired from my gun."
"So you don't know how fast you were going. I guess that means I can write anything I want on the ticket, huh?"
"Yes, Sir, you can talk to the shift super visor, but I don't think it will help. Oh ... did I mention that I am the shift supervisor?"
"Warning! You want a warning? O.K., I'm warning you not to do that again or I'll give you another ticket."
"The answer to this last question will determine whether you are drunk or not. Was Mickey Mouse a cat or a dog?"
"Fair? You want me to be fair? Listen, fair is a place where you go to ride on rides, eat cotton candy, and step in monkey poop."
"Yeah, we have a quota. Two more tickets and my wife gets a toaster oven."
"In God we trust, all others we run through NCIC."
"Just how big were those two beers?"
"No sir we don't have quotas anymore. We used to have quotas but now we're allowed to write as many tickets as we want."
"I'm glad to hear the Chief of Police is a good personal friend of yours. At least you know someone who can post your bail."
"You didn't think we give pretty women tickets? You're right, we don't. Sign here."