You can tell how my day’s been by the body count in my novel.
January 12, 2017
IT HAD NOT BEEN a good day. It was, in fact, a bad day at the end of a bad week.
I had spent more than two decades as editorial director and production manager for a custom publisher in Dallas. That meant we worked with giants in the corporate and retail world. They were used to giving orders, and I had never grown use to taking them. Being an editorial director and production manager meant only one thing. When the buck stopped, it fell on top of my desk.
I heard a knock at my office door and looked up. Robert was standing there, smiling like a Cheshire cat. He was always smiling. When Robert had no idea what he was doing or supposed to do, he smiled.
He thought it made me feel better. It didn’t.
Robert was a salesman, and he always needed help. Maybe I could write his proposal. Maybe I could come up with the right concept for his next client meeting. Maybe I could go with him and explain our production procedures.
Robert would have been perfectly happy if I made the appointment, made the meeting, made the presentation, made the sale, and sent him his commission check.
Robert was standing in the doorway smiling. He had a meeting in an hour. He wondered if I could write his proposal. He didn’t have time.
I looked up at Robert and said between clenched teeth, “At the moment, I am making a list of those bastards I’m taking with me just before I put a gun in my mouth and pull the trigger, and you have just climbed to the top of the list.”
Frustration had boiled over.
Robert’s smile faded.
He shut the door, and I could hear his footsteps in the hallway. He was walking faster than usual.
And now you know why I write novels. There are people I would like to take down. But I won’t.
There are people who make me mad enough to shoot them. But I don’t.
I simply go home, sit down at the machine that lets me travel from a nonfiction world to a fictional one, load up a few words, and shoot someone else instead.
When the betrayed lover stands and kills the self-righteous minister in Little Lies, the bullet hits the preacher who betrayed me in a church fight.
When my hero shoots the rogue CIA agent at the end of Place of Skulls, that shot is meant for the agent who sent me my last rejection notice.
When the German Captain at the train depot is gunned down during the Night of Broken Glass in Secrets of the Dead, well, that’s Robert.
Get on my wrong side, and, sooner or later, you’re going down. My morals, either fortunately or unfortunately, are either too high, or I simply don’t have the courage to shoot you in real life. In reality, I don’t have the heart for it. I still cry when Bambi’s mother dies, when Old Yeller breathes his last, when Shane rides off into the sunset.
However, make me made, and I can guarantee you’ll wind up on the pages of my novel. I can see your face in my mind when I pull the trigger.
I write mostly because I have a story I want to tell. But in the midst of that story, I write for therapy. I can wad up a lot of frustration, disappointment, and anger and throw them all on a page, and I feel so much better when the gunfire goes off and the chapter is written.
My soul is cleansed. So is my conscience. And I haven’t hurt a soul.
However, you can easily check my frustration level for the week by the body count in a novel I’ve just written.