The neat thing about my writing office is my “environment on demand”. I can change what’s outside depending on what my creative energy needs.
I need a break. Today I walk out of my office onto a dock that reaches into a forest lake. The dock is high enough that when I sit at the end of it, my feet dangle about a foot above the water. I lean over the lower rung of the railing and kick my feet, the childish movement a good outlet for my writer’s angst.
I toss a pebble into the water. Ploop. Another pebble, and the ripples skate over the surface.
My Muse sets a cooler beside me, then settles on my other side, long legs swinging in time with mine. He takes a small flat rock from my pile and slings it. It skips four times before sinking below the surface. “I thought after the dreary, cold, rainy week you’ve had you’d be sitting on a sandy tropical beach under an umbrella.”
I fold my arms on the railing. “Nope.”
He mirrors me. “Stuck?”
“Not sure. The scene’s not working right, and I’m not sure how to fix it.”
“It’s the new scene, right?”
“No, it’s a new version of an old scene.”
“Same diff.” He reaches behind me and drags the cooler to him. He opens one bottle and hands it to me. It’s not Man in the Moon, but one of Schell’s craft beers. He opens his own and takes a swig before leaning back over the rail, bottle dangling from his fingers. “What about a new order of events?”
“Maybe. That’s what one of my writing sisters suggested. I’m trying to work through that in my head. It’d make things easier as far as walking through the case.”
Footsteps crescendo behind us, then stop. I don’t bother to turn; I suspect who it is.
“She hates me.”
I roll my eyes and swallow some beer. “She doesn’t hate you.”
“I’m accusing her of being involved in the case, but I know she isn’t.”
“Quinn, you’re a cop. Can you prove she’s innocent?”
Silence. I sense him crouch behind me. He picks a couple skipping stones from my pile, then straightens. His first attempt fails. His second skips twice. “I don’t know.”
“Isn’t is supposed to be ‘innocent until proven guilty’, not the other way around?” my Muse says. “Seems to me you should be looking for ways to prove someone else is guilty. You have another suspect.”
“My other suspect is dead.”
“Liar.” My Muse takes another pull from his beer. “You tell Sierra about it, yet?”
Quinn picks another couple stones from my pile. “She’s not talking to me.” He tosses a rock far into the lake. Ripples coat the surface. “Will you go back to earlier? Breakfast would be good. She was talking to me then.”
I sigh. “It doesn’t matter when she was talking to you. You know as soon as you bring up what CSU found in her apartment she’s going to push back. It’s got to happen, and it doesn’t matter where I take the story back to.”
“It didn’t happen in the other timeline.”
“Yes, it did. It just had everything to do with you telling her what to do, and nothing to do with her possible involvement in the case. This is a mystery–she’s got to be a suspect. I had to rework the timeline.”
“The new timeline sucks.”
Tough shit. “The new timeline is cleaner.”
“Says the writer who created your ass.” My Muse finishes his beer and pops the top off another. “Besides, why are you doing your job at home, anyway? I thought you learned your lesson when your ex-wife …”
“This has nothing to do with–”
“It has everything to do with her.” My Muse nudges me. “There you go. He doesn’t want to confront Sierra at home because his job drove a wedge between him and his ex-wife, etcetera, etcetera. Relocate the scene to his office.”
The more I think about it, the more that idea seems to require the least unraveling and re-weaving of the timeline. I finish my beer, and rummage around in the cooler for a pick-me-up. Ah-ha! Ghiradelli chocolate. My Muse knows what I like.
So, the moral is: when you get stuck, sit out on the dock of the bay, waste some time, talk to your muse, and unravel a timeline or two.
Oh, and don’t forget the chocolate!!