Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Killer

Yesterday I wrote a short review of Sharp Objects, the first of the Gillian Flynn novels.  Today I went to Amazon to see what others had written about the book. Before I got to the reviews I saw and read a brief interview with Flynn.  In it, she made this comment:

"When I wrote Sharp Objects I didn't know who the killer was for a bit."

I don't know how a writer can do this, particularly a writer of mysteries or books that have a whodunit dimension.  If I, as a writer, do not know who did it, when I introduce a character who might have done it, might I depict him or her in a way that is an unlikely characterization for a killer?

But what do I know. Maybe if I wrote novels I would get it.

I have, in the hour or so since I read that interview, begun to think of the comment in a broader sense. Do we have a clue about our desired outcomes when we begin our day, or spend our time?  I think it is fair to say that for many, what we do on a daily basis is inconsistent with any long term planning. We just want to get through this particular "chapter" i.e. day.

Tomorrow I will look at my outlook calendar see what is in store for me at work, get ready for the thises and thats I will likely need to address, but do I know who the killer is?

I once was accused of thinking that I would live forever and maybe, just maybe--according to the accuser--I needed to plan out life beyond the short term.  Not sure that was a fair characterization of much of my decision making, but it was worth considering.

Do we know who the killer is? That is, do we know when we go about our business that we are going about our business because it fits in with some important objective? Or do we just get through the day and make sure we beat the traffic, are prepared for a meeting, get some exercise, and have taken the chicken out of the freezer in the morning so that there is something to eat for dinner.

I think novelists have a responsibility to the reader to think through their stories, especially mysteries. I think they need to know who the killer is, before they can tell the tale. And, on this Sunday morning, it comes to me that we, or I, would be better off if there was a notion at some point of a desired end, and then motion toward that objective.  Otherwise you get to the end of your own story and the killer who aborted and abridged your life is the person you look at in the mirror.

Don't know if this maudlin musing came about because of a dream I had just before I awakened.  I was thinking, in the dream, that my dad's funeral had been a week ago (it was actually over a year ago). So, I decided in the dream, to give him a call and ask him how it went.  And then I was startled--still in the dream--to acknowledge that such a phone conversation was impossible even with the new whiz bang technologies of 2015.

I woke up then and figured that lying in bed was not optimal even on a lazy Sunday.

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