Saturday, January 4, 2020

Year 5 of an Indie Writer: Week 1 - Sore "Muscles" and Whodunit Recommendations

Scott D. Parker

Happy New Year. Happy New Decade. Happy Saturday. Hope y'all had a great holiday season. Mine was pretty great. I took a week and a half from the day job which enabled me to enjoy The Lull. Or the Twilight Week. You know what I'm talking about: that time from Christmas Day to New Year's Day when each day slides into the next and you basically forget what day of the week it is. I got to church on time, but other than that, I all but didn't know.

And I didn't care. That's the beauty of that time, when you're basically away from anything resembling a normal routine. I read some Christmas stories, watched a few Hallmark Christmas movies, watched just about all the usual Christmas movies my family watches (only missed out on the new Netflix animated feature Klaus), and caught Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker twice, the second time in IMAX. There's something to be said for such a giant screen showing a giant story.

But I didn't write, and that was by choice.

Writer Know Thyself

One of the best things about keeping records of writing for the past ten years or so is being able to notice trends in how I write. When it comes to summertime writing, I'm all in, and happily so. Ditto for the spring and fall. But when December rolls around, for most of the past few years, I've not written. It seems December is a time my mind wants to enjoy stories others have written.

On the other end, however, when its time to start writing again, the muscles can be sore.

On New Year's Morning, I woke early and ran my first run of the year. It's been a little bit of time since I last run, and boy did my legs let me know it. Here, two days later, my thigh muscles are still sore. As anyone who exercises knows, if you take a break, getting back in the routine is difficult.

As is the writing routine. Which is never good for a writer.

Sore Writerly Muscles

When it comes to lifting weights or running, the simple adage to get back in the routine is just do it. Lace up the sneakers and go. Really, really easy.

But how does a writer get back into shape? Just write. Unlike exercise, however, this can sometimes be easier said than done. Again, it's utterly fascinating how we creatives can just not 'feel like it' when it comes to our craft. Sure, the writerly muscles might be sore from non-use, but our imaginations are not.

What's that you say? Well, even if I'm not physically typing words on a screen, I'm always dreaming up stories. Sometimes it's watching a movie and saying "Well, I would have done it this way." Ideas always flow at us and we writers constantly tell ourselves stories. Most of them we'll never write, but we still make them up. I've got a story idea for Christmas 2020 that popped out of nowhere. It excites me so I'll be working on it throughout the year.

But what about now? How does one get back on the horse?

Write and read. The writing is straightforward. The reading is, too. It fills the creative bucket in our imaginations, but I'll need an assist.

Whodunit Recommendations

If you're like me, then you've seen writer/director Rian Johnson's movie Knives Out. It's a modern take on a classic whodunit and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I've listened to podcast interviews with Johnson and he mentions Agatha Christie quite a bit. Turns out 2020 is the century anniversary of the publication of her first book, The Mysterious Affair at Styles. I've already picked up my mom's copy of the book to read. I've also signed up for the newsletter via the official website.

But Christie is not the only famous writer of whodunits. Thing is, I know few, if any, in this style of writing, the Golden Age of the Detective stories between the two World Wars.

That's where y'all come in. What are some good whodunits--both classic and modern. Is there a book version a la Knives Out that take the classic cues and remixes them in a new way?

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