Sometimes the process of writing can be as interesting as the product which emerges.
As was the case on Thanksgiving Day, the inspiration for a particular blog entry often comes from Deprogramming101 subscribers. Not when they share a news article or commentary and say, “You know, you should write about this.” But in the course of every day conversation, when they ask a question or relate a personal experience. Doug Hall, founder of Eureka Ranch, a corporate retreat outside Cincinnati, Ohio has based an entire career on helping others become more creative using this concept of “stimulus/response.” However, the creative power of this technique grows exponentially when you meld it was other innovative tools such as the theory of synchronicity, the simultaneous occurrence of events which appear to have no connection.
On two occasions this week, individuals asked me questions which, on the surface, seemed unrelated. My wife once again inquired, “Why is Mueller taking so long?” And during a phone call with our daughter, she wanted to know if I had made any progress on the political novel I have been drafting for the past year. For any event to shift from simple observation to stimulus, one must continually ask two questions.
- What is this trying to tell me?
- How is it relevant to something I am trying to do?
The first thing I needed to explore was the commonality between these two interactions with members of my family. I did not tell her this, but my daughter’s question made me feel quite guilty. The novel is a fictional telling of the Kennedy assassination. And Thursday marked the 55th anniversary of the president’s fatal trip to Dallas. For me, it represented one more year in which I missed a deadline, as I keep promising myself I will finish the text in time to release it “next November 22.”
Likewise, Robert Mueller has no set deadline. His timetable may be influenced by external events, e.g. the dismissal of attorney general Jeff Sessions and the appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting AG. Or waiting for the transmittal of Donald Trump’s written responses to a series of questions about Russian collusion. But, for all intents and purposes, Mueller (like me) controls when his work will be finished.
And that connection made me realize how Mueller’s task and that of any writer of fiction or non-fiction are linked. While my first attempt at a novel pales in comparison to the importance of the special counsel’s investigation, we face the same challenge. Will our individual results be viewed as credible?
For lack of a better word, Mueller is engaged in a search for truth which may eventually result in regicide, the act of disposing of a monarch. And the king still has many loyal followers. No easy task, complicated by the royal minions who will pick apart his work to find any discrepancy which tests the veracity of the narrative. Though less consequential, my challenge is the same. I believe the key to making an implausible story line real is in the detail. I’ll give you one example.
I needed to find a place where members of President Kennedy’s secret service detail could meet privately without raising suspicions, a location where they might be seen in the course of regular business. A Google search pointed to the James J. Rowley Center in Laurel, Maryland, a secret service facility where agents can practice defense skills and explore better techniques and strategies for carrying out their mission. Just one problem. Kennedy’s detail could not have been there as the center was not funded until 1969 and did not open until 1972. Chances are the reader would not have known the difference or cared. But I knew it would have been a flaw in the narrative and that was unacceptable.
Five years ago, a tale about a sitting president of the United States who colluded with a foreign adversary to win the election and then conspired to cover it up would be as implausible as my version of the Kennedy assassination. Mueller will be under enormous pressure to defend his findings, regardless of the outcome. If Trump is exonerated, his critics will be as skeptical as Turmp’s loyalists who will challenge every piece of evidence of conspiracy and obstruction of justice. And you can bet the farm, any flaw in the accuracy of the smallest detail will be used to undermine the report’s veracity. To get it exactly right takes time and requires every fact be checked and rechecked.
My book will be done when it’s ready. As will Mueller’s report. Writers, even novices like me, understand that. The public should also.
For what it’s worth.