Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, August 9, 2017, 11:41 a.m.
Football time’s a-comin’ comin’.
Rain, too, unfortunately. I’m scheduled to write about a “jamboree” (a heap of teams show up and match up against one another as planned for either a quarter or a half) in Woodruff on Thursday and here in Clinton on Friday.
Both the Red Devils and the Laurens Raiders are at Woodruff, but they won’t play each other until August 25. Clinton is playing Blue Ridge, a school that inexplicably wears red, in the opening “half” (there are actually three) beginning at 6 p.m. Then Chapman faces Spartanburg, and the final “half” is Laurens vs. host Woodruff. The halves are thirds, but that’s just too complicated to explain over and over.
It’s a handy grouping. Woodruff and Chapman are, like Clinton, in Region 3-3A, and Laurens hosts
Greenwood Index-Journal. I took notes and photos of Clinton-Blue Ridge, then drove to a nearby Burger King to file while Chapman and Spartanburg were playing. I drove back, took notes and snapped photos of what was left of Laurens-Woodruff, then dictated a few paragraphs while sitting in my car in the parking lot.
This time I’ll be able to drive back home to file, and Billy Dunlap, my free-lance employer at the GoLaurens/GoClinton website, is shooting photos.
In other words, a decent story is theoretically possible.
It’ll be nice to tune up my football-writing skills – mostly my note-and-stat-keeping skills – with an athletic contest that is as unofficial for me as it is for the teams. I may look for a new, better stat form here in a few minutes. Last year’s didn’t provide as much room as I needed. I’ll probably find a form I can print, but, being somewhat set in my ways, it’s possible I will draw up my own.
Possible, but unlikely. The Internet offers many options.
The summer has been dedicated to writing fiction. The sequel to my stock car racing novel, Lightning in a Bottle, is in the works. The manuscript is ready. The cover should be completed by month’s end, provided my designer and I see eye to eye (and we did on the two before this one). The new novel will be called Life Gets Complicated.
Believe it or not, writing free-lance stories about high school and college kids is an important part of my fiction.
Several readers of Lightning in a Bottle are convinced that Barrie Jarman is based on a real race driver. More than one have suggested Barrie is a latter-day, teen-aged Tim Richmond, but that never occurred to me once when I was creating him. If truth be known, Barrie, who was 16 when the novel began, is more derived from a high school football player than a race driver I never knew. There isn’t any one, but, when writing about a character 40 years younger, it helps to pay attention to what the kids of today are like.
Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, July 23, 2016, 9:26 a.m.
It’s been an eventful week. I got a cover designed for my next novel, Cowboys Come Home. I started on a sixth, which doesn’t mean it has a name yet, only that it has two bitingly satirical chapters.
Last night I washed my bedsheets. Dried them, too. Put them back on the bed. It is my general policy to put another set on the bed when I wash the sheets, but last night I put the same ones back on.
As I fell asleep, I was so proud.
Another change is on the horizon. Shortly I will begin reporting on Laurens County sports for the Greenwood Index-Journal. Basically, I will be doing what I have been doing, only a bit more of it.
Two years ago, I wrote about high school and college games for several newspapers. A year ago, about this time, I started writing for the GoLaurens/GoClinton website, and that was a gig I really enjoyed.
This is home. When I was a kid, the Clinton Red Devils at Wilder Stadium — not the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, or David Pearson at Darlington Raceway — occupied the center of my universe. The Laurens Raiders were respected rivals from eight years up the road, on the Laurens-Clinton Highway, or, as it is known here, the Clinton-Laurens Highway. This year’s Laurens-Clinton, or as we know it in Clinton, Clinton-Laurens, game is on August 26.
I’ll be there, and I’ll be watching one or the other all season long, and then into basketball season and beyond, and with the Presbyterian College Blue Hose thrown in from time to time for good measure.
When Billy Dunlap, of GoLaurens/GoClinton, hired me to cover the Red Devils, and I later picked up the Raiders from time to time, I was just looking for a little spending money to sustain me during the erratic flow of book royalties. I write a couple NASCAR columns each week, too, and I often turn the basic facts of a game story into the more observational format of a day-after blog here at montedutton.com.
My career is writing fiction. It is possible, writing fiction, to be imprisoned in an interior world of laptops, sporting events on TV, old movies, news, social media and guitar breaks. This world is necessary, too, if I am to become an overnight literary sensation after years and years of honing my skills and waiting for that big break, the coincidence in which someone important stumbles upon my work and likes it.
As I used to see young men post more often on Twitter than now, I’m not about that life.
I need to get out. I need to experience life, the better to create stories derived from the random interminglings of it. If I’m going to keep creating stories and characters, I cannot be a dull boy.
This Greenwood opportunity was unexpected. I had no idea the Index-Journal, where I took my first job and held it for 13 months 34 years ago, was interested in having me do exactly what I am doing now, only more of it. At the time I worked there, just out of college, thinking I knew infinitely more than I really did, I called it The Index Finger. When I talked to the executive editor, I had no idea the paper was interested in covering the sports across the lake.
I walked in the front door of that building for the first time since 1982. It may have been 1981 because, when I last worked there, I never went in the front door.
The sports department is where the darkroom used to be. There’s no darkroom. Duh.
Personally, the significance is that this correspondent’s job is more than what I’m doing now and, the way I’ve got it figured, exactly the amount I want to do.
Billy and I are parting on good terms. I wrote my last GoLaurens/GoClinton story, at least for now, on Friday. He was glad to have me. I was glad for the work. He can’t offer me what Greenwood can. I can do what Greenwood wants.
And I’ll still be writing about the Red Devils, Raiders and Blue Hose. They are familiar. Seldom has a year passed in which they were not a vibrant part of life, whether following a Clinton playoff game on Internet radio from a motel room in Phoenix or sweating profusely as me and my arthritic knees make our way up the Wilder Stadium stadium steps.
K.C. Hanna Stadium at LDHS isn’t at the alma mater, but it is easier on my knees.
What I’d love for you to do is “take” the Index-Journal, but, for now, at least keep an eye on the website. Soon I will have stories posted there. Follow it on Twitter. Keep reading GoLaurens/GoClinton, too. And this website. And my literary site, Well, Pilgrim … You know where I am. I’m everywhere. Read my novels, and I’ll take you all over the country. None has traveled abroad yet.
Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy either Forgive Us Our Trespasses or Crazy of Natural Causes, and you’ll get a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs, absolutely free. Tell ‘em Mr. Monte sent you, y’hear?
Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Links to print copies are below.
Forgive Us Our Trespasses is the latest. It’s a tale about crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.
Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.
The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.
The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.
Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.
Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).