[cb_profit_poster Storytelling]Clinton, S.C., Wednesday, December 18, 2013, 12:22 p.m.
Oliver Hardy would have said, “Another fine mess you’ve got us in,” and called me Stanley. My daddy would’ve said, “If that ain’t a Dutton deal, damned if I’ve seen one.”
Jimmy Dutton was prone to hyperbole. He also said something was “the damndest thing ever I heard” at least five times every day I was around him.
His older son, slightly over 20 years after he died, has lost his marbles.
That would be I.
You see, I’ve got this notion that I’m going to write novels for a living. It’s not a hard decision. I have little else to do besides this blog and the occasional song, but I’m busy because I’ve got this odd notion that I can make a living out of it.
How busy am I? Yesterday I found a sheet of paper with the words to a song I completely forgot writing. As a result, I’ve completely lost the tune. The lyrics are good, though. It’ll come back around now that I’ve found it, but it’ll be a while because there’s another one whose words I’ve got to memorize, and I just can’t do that but one at a time.
I’m trying to promote, and in quite a few cases sell, my second novel, The Intangibles. I’m at the second-draft stopping point for a third that I intend to be called Crazy by Natural Causes. Last week I started a fourth, which is a crime novel of undetermined title, and now I’ve decided to write yet another … at the same time.
Definite Dutton Deal. It’s not a term of industriousness. It’s a testimony to the considerable occasions in which Duttons attempt to defy odds, tilt at windmills and embark upon personal Pickett’s Charges.
It’s more fun that way, right up until disaster ensues.
The reason I am writing two novels at the same time is that, last week, fresh upon my excitement at completing three chapters of the crime novel, I was informed that there was a potential market for me writing a western.
At the time, my view was that writing a novel is so damned difficult that I can’t really justify any project that doesn’t absolutely, positively, undeniably excite me.
Then I drove up, down, through and around a bunch of mountains, and damned if I didn’t come up with a preliminary plot for a western.
How could I possibly write a western? Well, (1.) I grew up on a farm around horses and cattle, (2.) back in ancient times, I actually knew rodeo cowboys and took part in events in which youngsters lunged after dollar bills attached in the ears of calves, and (3.) I occasionally participated in horse shows, though not with particularly notable success. I think my entire cowboy career soured on the humiliation of fifth-place ribbons being pink, even when boys won them.
Then there’s the fact that I’ve read some really great ones by Larry McMurtry and Elmore Leonard, and I’m a big fan of those that have pictures and move at the whims of John Ford and Henry Hathaway.
Plus, one of my idols, the recently departed Elmore Leonard, started out writing westerns and based them all on a couple weeks he spent wandering around Arizona. I’ve wandered around Arizona, though not for two weeks at a time.
My favorite western is a modern one, McMurtry’s Leaving Cheyenne, and one started forming itself in my mind as I pondered that novel and the sad movie “The Misfits,” directed in 1961 by John Huston from a script by Arthur Miller.
If Arthur Miller could write a western, channeling Disney, “why, but, oh, why, can’t I?”
Now I’ve got four chapters of crime and one of western typed out. Can I switch back and forth? It’s like the “Tuggy the Tugboat” of my childhood: I think I can, I think I can …