Writers are cautioned not to begin their story with the protagonist waking up, especially from a dream. I try to adhere to that caution. However, real life is something different. Sometimes, in those moments on the precipice of waking or dozing, thoughts, ideas, snippets, or simply a name come to me. Short of whipping off the covers and leaping out of bed to scribble the thought, idea, snippet, or name, I’ll let it play in a loop, round and round in my head as I begin to tinker with it, see where it leads. Is it something to include in my work in progress or something to be filed away for the next project? Only time will tell.
The other morning it was just the one word, Ozymandias. Lovely word, that. I knew I knew it, just had to place it. Turns out – as you probably may recall from your school days – it’s the title of one of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s sonnets. A spiffy poem he wrote about a statue in ruins of Rameses II. It rhymes in accordance with the strict guidelines of a sonnet and I like that. While it doesn’t have to rhyme in a sing-song-y way like Edward Lear’s The Owl and the Pussycat, I do like poetry to rhyme here and there. Otherwise it’s just prose, no?
The title of my recently released paperback Death at the Drive-In (available on Amazon.com) (shameful product placement) came to me in one of those drowsy moments of pre-awakeness. It was definitely a catchy title – and I say that in a non-braggy way because it was just there, fully formed and begging for a novel to be written around it. And so I complied. One likes to comply with the Universe, especially when it so nicely lays something spiffy in ones lap. I’ve even woken to some of my characters exchanging dialogue that later found a place in one of my novels. It’s like pennies from heaven, these gifts bestowed in the semi-slumber moments, generally the lucky ones with heads on both sides.
I don’t like Jazz. There, I said it. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with Jazz, and I’m certainly not saying those who enjoy it are pretentious, maladjusted, drug-addled ne’er do wells. I just don’t like the way the musicians begin at relatively the same time, then sort of wander off doing their own thing and not in a drum or guitar solo sort of way we’re accustomed to and that can be tedious at best when over indulged, but in a free-for-all, hodge-podge, discordant mélange of noise that can sometimes build to a frenetic peak that almost makes you want to jump out of your skin, and then they seem to realize they’ve run too far afield and manage to get back on track to end at approximately the same time. The only thing worse than Jazz is scat singing; that singing with nonsense syllables usually to an instrumental accompaniment sung by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Mel Torme. You know you’ve entered one of the Circles of Hell (somewhere between Limbo and Lust, I believe) when the Jazz begins and the scat singing commences. At the first few bars of “A Tisket, A Tasket, A Green and Yellow Basket”, hike your skirts and leg it for the comfort of a cozy spot where you can listen to a soothing Beatles, Blur or Billy Joel song that has real words.