The Through-Line

My beloved nephews are dogsitting Luna.

I’m in Corte Madera, California, at the Book Passage Mystery Writers Conference. Here in my hotel room, all is quiet. Traffic is a tide over on
I-5, and my brain is saturated from the past three days of authorial
info-dumping. At a conference, this is a good thing. I want the author faculty members to info-dump all over me.

Many craft terms have been bandied about, but I heard a new one (to me) yesterday in a plotting lecture given by Robert Dugoni and Cara Black: the through-line. What is the overall question of the story?

Of course, me being me, after a day with writers, and then an evening of conversation, food, and two great Zinfandels, I returned to this here hotel room, exhausted but unable to sleep. I got to thinking: What is my through-line? I’ve had a cantankerous, broody relationship with fiction these past few years. I haven’t been writing. Not really. I’ve developed three new novel ideas, and set them all aside, uninterested. Somewhere along the way I lost my way, no longer following my personal yellow brick road…

Which is why I decided to attend this conference: to step onto the writing road again. So here I am, on this page at least, attempting to write my way back to my through-line, which, in the end, is the simple fact that I can’t let the fiction go. I don’t know what’s going to become of me. I’m not saving for retirement, for example. I work as a contractor and as little as possible so I’ll have time for fiction. I don’t have a supportive husband to help me through the financially tough times.

But that’s okay. I do feel inspired again, and I thought I’d put that out there on this humble, much-neglected blog. I do want get back to the honest and difficult work of writing first drafts and then revising the you-know-what out of them.

One of the story ideas that I set aside…I got to talking about it with a new Canadian writer friend last night. The truth is, it’s not such a bad idea, after all…

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