Saturday, December 02, 2017

A Quiet Saturday

Weekends are often the quietest days of my life, and today was no exception. My family was busy, to put it mildly: a football game for Jacob, two weddings, a party, and a Dallas get-together for the adults. When I saw Jordan this morning, I said, “I’ll see you tomorrow,” but she did sneak out for a quick minute late this afternoon. And Jacob has promised promised promised to check in with me when he comes home from ice skating at ten. I remember days that busy fondly, not sure if I miss them or not. Maybe that's part of the identity I am giving up for elderhood.

Meantime I had a pleasant day doing two things I enjoy: writing and cooking. Yesterday I cleaned out the odds and ends left in the freezer—a bit of something tomato-based I didn’t recognize, some beans (not sure of seasonings on them), some cooked chicken, a seasoned lamb patty, and a half-full container of beef broth. From the fridge I got caramelized onions—should have cut the strips into small pieces, because they were stringy and hard to deal with but so good. I added chicken broth and canned tomatoes, and voila! Soup! I let it simmer all day and had a cup for supper. All that simmering meant you couldn’t distinguish anything in it, but it was good--a touch of that lamb flavoring came through. Now I have this large pot of soup I’m wondering what to do with.

I wasn’t really hungry by dinner, because I’d had a cranberry/orange scone from Central Market for breakfast—I had no idea how big those were. For lunch I had a twice-baked potato, also from Central Market. But with my soup, I managed a small sirloin slider and a small salad with Cardini’s Caesar dressing—my latest favorite of prepared dressings.

As for writing, today was the day I vowed to get back to what I laughingly call the work in progress—there’s been no progress for too long. I abandoned it at 2600 words because other matters kept pressing in. Tonight, I have it up to 2800 words but the strangest thing happened. It isn’t going at all like I planned—the characters are not doing what I thought they would, and the good guys are being stubborn, the bad guys acting nice.

I remember the late Elmer Kelton, great Texas cowboy novelist, talking about the writing of The Wolf and the Buffalo. He set out to write about the life of a Buffalo soldier at Fort Concho after the Civil War, but this Comanche chief kept crowding in, demanding to be part of the action. Ultimately the novel became the story of two lives—a Buffalo soldier whose fortunes were rising, and a Comanche chief whose world and way of life were disappearing. Elmer won awards for the book, and it is considered one of his best, out of a long and prolific career. If you haven’t read any Kelton novels, rush, do not walk, to get your hands on one. You’ll be richly rewarded

The message of course is an age-old one for writers: listen to your characters, and they’ll tell you where your novel is going. I’m listening, but I’ll be darned if I can tell what Kelly and Keisha are telling me. (I’m working on a Kelly O’Connell Mystery.) I’ll get back to it tomorrow, and see if I can figure out what’s happening.

A really pretty day, but I didn’t venture out of the cottage. I often don’t if I’m alone. I can open the French doors and have the lovely day come inside with me. Now, at nine at night, the air is getting, as a former nanny used to say, “airish,” just a touch cool.

Don’t forget to watch for the super moon tonight.

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