I’ve had a love affair with long, aimless drives well before I found love with a man who shared that passion. Sliding behind the wheel, plugging in the iPod or adjusting Pandora radio, and then pointing the car toward an unknown destination has long been my idea of a grand day.
If the weather’s nice, the top is down and the sunglasses are on. Always, there is the requisite Diet Dr. Pepper or iced tea (aka the house wine of the South) in the poorly designed item that passes for a cup-holder in a Mini Cooper. It’s all great fun, especially when our drive takes us down odd little country roads kicking up a dust trail in our path.
Now it’s midweek and I’m back at my desk doing another kind of wandering, this time on the page. A new book is brewing.
This book has a tentative title, a publisher’s signature on a contract, and is already a synopsis with at least one character who will see print in a previous novel before his story is told. It’s all exciting stuff, this new beginning, though any writer who tells you he or she isn’t at least a tiny bit terrified at not living up to any prior books…well, I digress.
So, I’m thinking about this man with whom I will be spending the next few months (yes, my husband knows all about him), and I’m filling in the gaps left by the brevity of the synopsis and the few conversations he is allowed in book 1. Instead of the requisite character worksheets or plotting exercises that some authors swear by, what comes to mind as I plan his tale is an image I saw on a dirt road last week when my husband and I were on one of our aimless rambles, and I was certainly not looking for writing inspiration. A gloriously beautiful hawk perched on a low branch so near the road I could almost reach over and touch it. Its stare was jarring, the way it almost dared us to approach. And then, abruptly, the massive bird attempted to fly…and flopped to the ground with great indignity. My heart hurt for that hawk, so proud even as it was wounded. Nothing showed on the outside until it made a move.
From that hawk comes the germ of an idea that will fill in some of the blanks in a certain New Orleans Pinkerton agent. His pride, oh, I know where that comes from. But his hidden wounds? Those are part of the journey, and right now I don’t know the destination.
Thus, I am on the road again…to where? In this case the destination is to THE END. Won’t you join me?