Odd how the brain works. At least mine. I’ve got plenty on my plate, but my brain keeps handing me new stuff.
I am working away on my project, a middle-school holiday horror story. And it’s coming along. And another idea has been percolating in the back of my mind which has potential.
But a couple of days ago, while I was in the shower, when I wasn’t thinking about anything in particular, I got hit, hard, by a way to solve the problem with “Chance.” That as my first novel. I really liked it. My then-agent was extremely enthusiastic. A friend had gone over it and said he had thought it would take him a week or so to read it but it took two days because “I literally couldn’t put it down.” It was at Little, Brown for nine months, worked its way up the submission process until the final meeting. And they decided to pass. After nine months.
Anyway, my agent (who has since parted ways with me) sort of lost heart, made a few more desultory efforts to get the book sold, and finally told me, “Chance is dead in the water.” I will never forget those words. “Dead in the water.”
Two days later I started the book that became “Chrissie Warren: Pirate Hunter.” Which is a better book, I think.
But I still like “Chance,” a lot. And I’d like to resuscitate it, bring it back to life because there’s some really good stuff in there, some great characters and action.
Problem is, I cannibalized a few pieces to use in the early part of “Chrissie.” The whole getting aboard a ship under a different guise, early days learning the ropes. So I have to come up with a different opening and transition, it’ll change a chunk of the story and I have to work out how.
And then, in the middle of the shower, it all came to me. I wasn’t thinking about it, it just jumped into my head, fully formed. How to get him on the ship, how to get him with the pirates. All of it. Actually a little better than it was. I’m looking forward to getting to work on it.
And then I was having a conversation via email with Mark – Cap’n Slappy – my friend, partner in piracy and writing partner. We were talking about my son Jack, my eldest, who with his girlfriend Casey in about six months will make me a grandfather. (Very exciting!) Anyway, he asked if I was wanted to be called “gramps” or “Pop-Pop.” Neither. “Gramps” is a little “Beverly Hillbillies” for my taste, and “Pop-Pop” is insufferably cute. I am not a fan of cute.
No, I said. I’m thinking Grampa will be just fine.
And then I started thinking about my dad. When his first grandchild was born (my niece Jenny) he decided he wanted to be called Gandalf. An interesting choice, because Dad didn’t like “The Lord of the Rings,” didn’t understand what the fuss was about. (One of the few things he was ever wrong about, but I guess it’s a matter of taste and “Degustibus non diputandum est,” in matters of taste there is no arguing.) He later decided, nah, that’s kind of high falutin’, I’ll just go with grandpa. But by then to the kids, he was Gandalf and that was that. And it fit. To his grandchildren he was the wise old man who knew everything and could tell stories better than anyone, (And they were right.)
(By the way, his birthday passed just a few days ago. He died 15 years ago, but there’s rarely a day that goes by that I don’t think of him. Happy birthday, dad.)
And I was thinking, yeah, it’d be neat to have a cool name like Gandalf. But that was taken. So I’ll be more than happy with grampa.
Of course, I’m a pirate. SO maybe something a little piratical. Like – Oh, I don’t know – And then it hit me.
Oh my god! Not only is it a great grandfather name, but it’ll be a great title for a book I’m going to write as soon as I wrap up this project. A children’s picture book that I WILL finish before the baby is born. (Although I’ll have to figure out about the illustrations, *I* sure won’t be drawing them. You don’t want to see my drawing.)
So thanks a lot brain. Like I wasn’t busy enough already? But I have to admit, those were both great ideas.