Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Perfect Opening Line -- Lost

The other night while out on the deck I had a sudden inspiration and a great opening line flashed into my head.

It was something like, "Everyone makes mistakes," or "Everyone has regrets," or "Everyone wishes he could have a do-over."

But it was none of those.

It was perfect.

It encapsulated the entire theme of the book in a single sentence.

Whatever it was.

The next day, I couldn't remember it. Only pale, lifeless imitations. What was I trying to say? What was the theme I had in mind?

I'll never know. No one will ever know.

It's gone like a bunny down a rabbit hole. Like a dandelion puff in a strong breeze. Like cold beer on a hot day.

Gone forever.

Damn, I should have written it down. I told myself to write it down.

It was perfect.

How sad is that?

Monday, June 17, 2013

My Plot Idea Stolen!

I was planning on writing a post today about interesting -- to me -- words like "outtake" and "takeout," "killjoy" and "buzzkill," which switch verb positions and so forth, and then I discovered this: Christian Nation, a novel that supposes Christian fundamentalists get their way and officially turn this into a "Christian nation."

Now, before I get myself in trouble, I'm not really saying the author, Frederic C. Rich, stole my idea -- he most assuredly did not -- only that I've been thinking about such a book for a few years, exploring what would happen if a constitutional amendment were passed declaring the U.S. a Christian nation, with attendant unforeseen consequences. In Christian Nation the country goes fundamentalist when John McCain dies and Sarah Palin becomes president; the way I conceived my novel, the catalyst would have been al Qaida nuking Chicago, leading to a sudden rush of us-against-them feeling that culminates in the adoption of the 28th Amendment.

I didn't go forward with it for a number of reasons, among which the most important were my general sloth, laziness and lassitude; and I was afraid it would take a lot of work to do it well. Also, it has been done before in some ways, notably by Margaret Atwood in The Handmaids Tale. Still, I was actually readying myself to put pen to paper. I bought a notebook and everything. I imagined the opening scene of protagonist Moire Something-or-other clacking down the marble-floored hallways at the Department of Faith and Justice on her way to a hearing on whether her client's medical outlook met the threshold to obtain an abortion. (She was going to try a novel and groundbreaking claim that since the law banning all abortions permitted an exception in case the mother's life was in danger, and since all pregnancies carry a small risk of death, that all she had to show was that her client was pregnant to gain permission for a therapeutic abortion.) I wasn't really sure where it was going to go after that -- hence the need for the notebook, to make notes! -- but the general premise would have been that the constitutional amendment would have allowed just about anything to be characterized as "Christian" or not, and that you should be careful what you wish for.

So, congratulations to Mr. Rich, I guess.

And back to the drawing board notebook for me.

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