Road Map

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I’ve been writing my arse off on Emmett’s second chapter all week.

I have a goal to pull down one of the big writing charts that decorate the walls of the writing cave today (Or, tonight, more likely, as I have the usual distractions: Grading a few papers, teaching a Sunday school class, attending a meeting).

A few months ago, I shared models of the book-in-outline.

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Old charts that have been rearranged, cut, retaped, and rewritten since this photo was taken.

I take the same approach to each chapter. Then, I break the chapter down into bite-sized sections.

The section I’m working on at the moment hangs on the wall, in front of me.

I have MANY of these wall-hanging outlines in my possession, mostly stacked up on the floor, waiting for me to get to them, because I don’t have that many walls in my office. I put up one section at a time, and keep the overall book outline (the road map) always hanging up on the back of my office door.

If I can get one of my charts off the wall today, I will rejoice!


In between writing and teaching bouts, I get out of the house. Yesterday, I spent a few hours at our local high school, helping sort old books that had been donated for an upcoming annual used book sale.

The manager was going through a bag of very old books that had been dropped off earlier in the morning. She knows I love doing this sort of thing; she also knows that I go to these book-sort events not only to help out, but just in case someone miraculously donated Emmett’s scrapbooks to this book sale. (I know it is not likely, but, you never know.)

She took one book out, made a face at it, and tossed it into the garbage can.

I glanced at the book in the can.

Say, I asked her. Can I have that?

Sure, she said. Help yourself. It’s falling apart, though.

Doesn’t bother me, I said.

A falling-apart book means it was well loved. Plus, the cover looked interesting. I fished it out of the can. This is what it was:

The cover is leather and gilded. Worn, well read, well loved.

The cover is leather and gilded. Worn, well read, well loved.

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The back of the book. The gilding has worn off the edges of the pages.

The back of the book. The gilding has worn off the edges of the pages.

No copyright date was anywhere on the inside pages, but I looked this one up -- it is from 1928.

No copyright date was anywhere on the inside pages, but I looked this one up — it is from 1928.

Great stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, several of which are 'new' to me.

Great stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, several of which are ‘new’ to me.

Isn’t it great? Odd timing too, as a friend and I had had an exchange about Sherlock Holmes the other day, and I had mentioned to him that Emmett would probably would have read and enjoyed Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series. It certainly was around when Emmett was alive, and popular, too.

I think Emmett would probably have identified right away with the analytical, quiet, reclusive detective. Emmett’s attraction to the law, his love of reading, and his aptitude for complex problem solving would have made this a perfect gift. Also, Holmes was about the same age as Emmett (20s) at the time the books came out.

Excerpt from "A Scandal in Bohemia," describing Holmes' addiction to morphine.

Excerpt from “A Scandal in Bohemia,” describing Holmes’ addiction to cocaine and ambition.

I only have documentation that Emmett was addicted to alcohol, and, he was frequently described as a workaholic.

I wonder, if Emmett read these books (and I think he did), that he did not see some of himself in Holmes.

I also wonder if, in thinking himself like Holmes, Emmett may have reasoned: “At least alcohol is not as bad as cocaine.”

 

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