Ask for me tomorrow...

How can this have come as a surprise to me?  From the day I decided to write this story, I knew Clarence would die.  I've been planning and researching and writing toward this moment--probably the greatest emotional climax that my story is going to have--for two years.  I planted the misinformation of his father's sickness, I showed his mother where to buy the arsenic, I put his freaking house in order.

It's a cliche that people say when someone they loved dies: I always thought I'd have more time.  Well, I honestly thought I'd have more time.  Then suddenly I realized the scene I was writing couldn't end anywhere but Clarence's death.  I think Twyla and I realized it at the same moment.  We both started crying.  I almost woke Joshua up with all my sniffling and sobbing.

Clarence Matthews is dead.  Somehow the story and the people in it have to move on.  Tonight, though, we say goodbye to a man who lived his short life to the fullest and filled every second he could with love and laughter.  We're all better for having known him.


Not by Bread Alone

I seem to consume a lot when I'm in the middle of a really productive period.  Not a lot of food, but lots of liquids and information.  If I can get away with it, I'll spend about 50% of my day reading stuff online, learning about random things (recent searches from my laptop: "difference between baking soda and baking powder," "what is Esperanto?", "seraphim," "surname meanings 'w'," "graphic novels," and "egg substitutions").  The rest of my day (50% for those of you who can't do the math) I spend writing and drinking.  Coffee is the most obvious, since you can smell it when you walk in.  Water, however, is the most copious.  For every gallon of coffee I drink while working, I'd say I drink at least four gallons of water.

But really, if you wanted to get technical about it, I probably spend 40% of my day reading online, 40% writing and drinking, and 20% of my day going to the bathroom.  Because nothing goes through you faster than coffee, water and information.


In Future Memoriam of Clarence Matthews

I've been in a kind of bad mood the last few days--which would be fine if I had any right to be.  But I don't.  Many of you (are there really "many" of "you" or is there just me?) know that I've been writing a romance novel for the last two years because romances make quick money, they're always in demand, and even someone like me likes to write a happy ending now and then.  (That wasn't originally intended as a pun, but now that I see it, I like it.)  What you (assuming there are some of you) may not know is that I've had to stop for long periods of time because of school and life and pick back up later.  What you may not know unless you are a writer is that picking back up on something that you wrote a year, a month, or even a week ago isn't easy.  You have to recapture the style, the mindsets and voices of your characters, remember where the story was going, remember what's already happened, recover the emotional tone...the list feels endless.

So, by rights I should be overjoyed that I've finally got back to my romance novel and the checklist isn't giving me too much trouble.  My coffee pot's ringing off the hook, the way it does when I'm about to get some serious work done.  I wrote three pages the other day that conformed to the tone, characters, set the plot in motion...I should be more than happy.  But I'm not.  Yesterday I realized that I'm about to kill the most decent person in my story.  Clarence is a loving husband, a wonderful father, and the best friend a man could have.  Doing the right thing is of the utmost importance to him unless it would be funnier to do the wrong thing.  He's charming, selfless, and alive.  So alive.  And even though he's always known that he would die the same way his father did, he doesn't want to die.  Not yet.

Psychologists might suggest that I'm freaking out so much because I'm only 23 and haven't had time to deal with my own mortality.  Not so.  I've been dealing with mortality all my life.  My parents never shielded us kids from death.  If someone we knew died, we went to the visitation or funeral.  When our pets kicked it, we were on hand to bury them.  My favorite bottle calf had to be butchered so we could eat it--I think I've had time to realize that when someone dies they're not here anymore.  No, I'm freaking out because I'm about to effectively push the delete button on a truly good guy for no other reason than moving the plot forward.

Clarence has to die.  There's no way around it.  It's all been leading up to this.  And so I'm a murderer for the greater good of my story.



To the (maybe) one of you who read this blog, I'd like to say how excited I am.  Tomorrow is the first tournament in my husband's chess career in almost 10 years.  We'll be leaving for KC in the early afternoon (after getting new tags for our license plates because we can't afford to get another ticket and it's been more than a month since they were supposed to be renewed) and Josh will be registered and ready to rock (in a chess sort of way) by 7pm.  As you can imagine, he's all geared up about this thing.  It's part of his plan for life: become a master woodworker, get a degree in some field of science related to physics and astronomy (astrophysics, perhaps?), become a chess grandmaster.  And, like woodworking, chess is in his blood.  Josh's mom has told me stories about how her mother and father (straight up German, accent and everything) would sit in silence for hours completely focused on a game.  Josh's mom knows how to play chess, but never really fell in love with the game because, like Joshua, her father didn't see any good coming from letting someone win.  "How will you get better if I let you win?"  Logical.  I'm usually good for three or four games before I get so upset I don't want to play anymore (which is part of the reason Joshua doesn't like to play with me), but Josh can play and lose a hundred times without taking it to heart.  According to him, losing is a learning experience.  (He's definitely not a Hudson.)

I know for a fact that my husband has the ability to become a grandmaster.  What I don't know is if he really wants to.  Like everyone 30 years older than their age, Joshua's hell-bent on reasoning out his purpose in life. "Chess is just a game."  That's what bothers him.  Would God put him on Earth just to play a game?  That's not a question I have an answer for or even a compelling argument.  When Josh begins to doubt his direction, I just ask him whether he thinks God would have created him with endless cool-headed logic, foresight, and a dispassionate point of view for no reason.  Me, I'm different.  I'll never be great at chess because a game is personal for me.  The same goes for an argument about science, history, or decision-making.  I can't separate my emotions from even insignificant things, but Joshua can.  I've called him Spock before, and with good reason.  He has the ability to be great.  I hope the tournaments we go to this month show him that and help him decide if chess is the path he's supposed to go down.  I also hope he wins, but what wife wouldn't want that?