Painted Illusions: A Tale of What I’d Probably Be Like Were I Not (reasonably) Sane

I wasn’t going to. One week ago I said I wasn’t going to. There is actual, audio proof out there that I said I was not going to participate in the NaNoWriMo this year. I haven’t for the last several because I know that I’ll never get it done. How do I know? Because I’ve never gotten it done.

For those of you don’t know, NaNoWriMo is a contest of sorts; you have 30 days to write a 50,000 word or more long novel. I’ve started several times, never finished. I wasn’t going to this year. Until Tuesday, Nov. 1st, the first day of NaNoWriMo (duh) came. As the day wore on, a little voice in the back of my head began to squawk at me, teasing me about not participating. I had rationalized my decision, determining that the two projects I have in limbo (two completed projects in desperate need of rewrite) took greater precedence over a 30 day flight of fancy.

But then a pesky, annoying little idea began to creep into my head. An image here, an image there. A question was posed, “What if…?” The next thing I knew, I had the root of a story and found myself typing furiously away at my keyboard as soon as I got home from work Tuesday afternoon.

Two things surprised me that afternoon as I sat in my recliner clacking away at my laptop. One, I had no real idea where I was going to go. Yet, somehow a story seemed to flow almost effortlessly from my fingertips. Events and details found their way on to my blank screen without my having to put a whole lot of effort into them. Plus, when I set to work at it again yesterday, I again found that I was able to write the story so easily. It helped me feel good about myself as a writer again as I haven’t had that kind of output in months. (But then I saw the word count of my far more talented friend Nate Tackett and I felt a little less proud of myself, but proud nonetheless.) Two, I was able to write so easily without using a pen and paper. For whatever reason, over the past few years I have been practically unable to write a story unless it was in long form and  by hand. I would try to sit down at a computer screen and would only find myself staring at the screen for hours or far too easily distracted by the internet. Not this time, though. A little bit today, though, but not too bad.

But what am I writing?

I spent my formative years watching a lot of cop and PI shows. I was weened on The Equalizer, Simon & Simon, Magnum PI, Hill Street Blues, and Miami Vice. It is probably for that reason alone that I write more detective or cop fiction than anything else anymore (or ever). They became part of my inner psyche, to the point that I sometimes walk around with an inner monologue like the main character in a noir film. Or, as is far more often the case, I will sometimes have the background music from shows like Magnum or Simon & Simon. I have bought Hawaiian shirts before, and love the Detroit Tigers, much like Thomas Magnum. Sometimes I like to imagine, despite having freshly turned 35 years old, that I’m sometimes in a big mystery, being followed by a strange assailant or in a car chase.

Then I thought, what if I had a story with a main character that could no longer tell if he was imagining or not? That became the root of my story for NaNoWriMo: the story of a man who often thinks he’s the main character in a tv or movie mystery who involves himself into an actual murder investigation. He’s an affable, but not entirely likeable, alcoholic with a hooker for a girlfriend who often gets smacked around by her dwarf pimp and his overgrown bodyguard/enforcer. He incorrectly infers that the murder of a person close to him is directly tied to him and thus feels obligated to figure out the who and the why. He stumbles into danger by chance which only serves to further cement the illusion in his brain.

Now, the key is to see if I actually stick with it through the whole month of November…

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