Monday, October 17, 2011

Looking For Answers In All The Wrong Cookies

I took my mother to Dr. Hearing Aid this morning (she has successfully adapted to her new hearing aid and no more appointments are called for), and afterwards we had lunch at our favorite Chinese restaurant.

Since my life is a neverending succession of questions (What book should I read next? Should I hold it against the Texas Rangers that George Bush goes to their games? Will I ever get around to cleaning the downstairs hallway? How much more can I shove into the freezer?), I naturally turned to the fortune cookies for answers.

Here's what my mother's cookie said:

Slaying the dragon of delay is no sport for the short-winded.

My mother, being 100 years old, is kind of past the dragon of delay situation.

Here's mine:

We treat this world of ours as though we had a spare in the trunk.

Now that's probably very profound, and no doubt I could learn something from it, if I understood exactly what it meant. Do we drive the world over nails and shards of glass? I never drive my tires intentionally over nails and the suchlike, and even worse, I never learned how to change a tire, and nowadays they don't put really good spares in the trunk anyway, just those scrawny scary things that you know aren't going to last until you can get your car to someplace that knows how to change a tire.

But I am very good about recycling, and I think the fortune cookie should give me some credit for that.

Speaking of recycling (this transition is so brilliant I'm darn near dumbstruck by it), I've been thinking about recycling some of the characters from Life As We Knew It and The Dead And The Gone and This World We Live In in The Shade Of The Moon Take Two, if I ever write it.

One of the characters under consideration is Miranda's friend Sammi, who leaves midway through LAWKI, never to be heard from again. I've always been interested in what becomes of Sammi, and a couple of people have left comments on this very blog suggesting a Sammi story, should I write TSOTM Take Two volume of short stories.

This morning as I snuggled with Scooter, I thought about a Sammi story, and I realized two things. The first, and most dazzling, was that Sammi specifically tells Miranda she's going to Nashville, which is in Tennessee, the same state that Sexton, Tennessee is in, even though I made up Sexton, Tennessee and didn't make up Nashville. I've been very reluctant in my ponderings to have characters bump into each other, since that feels far too coincidental, but if Miranda is in Tennessee anyway, she could legitimately decide to look for Sammi in Nashville.

With that in mind, I tried to work out a Sammi/Miranda story and here's the second realization. If I tell the story from Miranda's point of view, it's a chapter. If I tell it from Sammi's, it's a story.

Last night, mostly to see how things stand, I made up a listing (I can't call it a chapter outline, since I'm hoping to have stories, not chapters) of the stories I sort of know about. This morning I added Sammi to the list.

I have minimal concern about people reading this list and figuring out the plots of the stories because most of the things on the list don't have plots yet, and even if they do, my handwriting is so bad there are a couple of words even I can't read, and I wrote the list less than 24 hours ago, so you'd think I'd remember what I wrote.

Oh well. The dragon of delay doesn't stand a chance against me. Whatever else you might think about me, I am definitely long-winded!


Shelby said...

Don't make it from Sammi's POV!!!!! I would miss Miranda...
And is your mom really 100? Because that would be so cool. And amazing.

Marci said...

I am absolutely elated that you have immortalized Speech and Language Pathology pads in your blog! I am also glad that Freda's hearing aid has been deemed worthy.

Have fun torturing Sammi and Miranda together.

The only solution to the Fortune Cookie dilemma is to eat more of them.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hello to Shelby and to Marci-

Don't worry Shelby that the entire book would be from Sammi's point of view. If it gets written, there'll be a lot of different stories and a couple of them will certainly be from Miranda's viewpoint.

And thank you Marci for that excellent fortune cookie piece of advice!

Anonymous said...

I would love to know what happens to Sammi.

On a tangental note - some short stories have more than one chapter, do they not? Are you leaning towards limiting each to a certain size or do you imagine that some would be longer than others.

I'm just curious. I like to hear how various writers percolate their stories. Best wishes.


Nora Durbin said...

I would also love to see a story from Sammi's POV and to hear what has happened to her. I think character recycling is a great idea because there are so many characters out there that your readers are wondering about.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi JulieB and Nora Durbin-

I haven't given a lot of thought to the strucuture of the possible stories, other than to make sure they have a beginning, middle, and end and that something actually happens in each one.

My guess is I won't worry about the length; each story will be as long as it needs to be.

This morning as Scooter snuggled, I played around with the Sammi story. I came up with a great line, which sadly, I've already forgotten!

Anonymous said...

Just as long as you kill off Megan's minister somewhere along the way, it all sounds okay to me!

Anonymous Santa Fe

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hello Anonymous Santa Fe-

I make no guarantees about Megan's minister. Right now, he's not on my potential story list (but if you look at the list, you'll see there are gaps).

Of course right now I'm not even guaranteeing I'll try writing the stories. You wouldn't believe how many books I've been meaning to read and how many movies I've been meaning to watch!

Anonymous said...

Hopefully in the midst of watching movies, reading books, eating fortune cookies, helping your mom, and so much'll be able to write the book!!!! I'm a huge fan and cannot wait for it to come out. Thanks so much

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Thanks Anonymous.

If I can figure out where I left my brain cells (I know they're around here somewhere), maybe I'll get to work!

Sara Reed said...

A Sammi story would be amazing! I would love to see what happened to her. Currently I am reading "Life as we knew it," and ever since I came to that part I have been wondering will become of her.

Anonymous said...

I don't like the short story idea.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hello Sara Reed and Anonymous and thank you both for your imput-

It's fun to think about possible short stories. Maybe if I have a time to next week, I'll give one a try.

If it works, great. If it doesn't, well I'm no stranger to failure!