On the merry-go-round by Deb Jennifer

If you walk into my house you can usually tell if I’m deeply involved in working on a book.  Once I’m sucked in, everything around me goes to hell.  The dishes sit undone in the sink.  Laundry piles up.  Toys left on the floor tend to stay there.  Taped to the walls are huge sheets of newsprint covered in story boards, chapter outlines and various other novel-related brainstorming. Coffee and tea cups cover my desktop.  Index cards with notes are strewn around every room.   Books, notebooks, boxes of Promise postcards are stacked in precarious piles.   I can never find my reading glasses.  Or the phone when it rings.  The dog gets antsy because she hasn’t had her walk.  My daughter gets whiny because she’s tired of being ignored.  If it weren’t for her, I’d forget all about meals and live on coffee and pretzels.

This was how things were this past week at my house.  And it was made worse by the fact that my partner Drea was away at a conference.  My poor daughter was stuck entertaining herself while I was huddled over the laptop, furiously pecking away at the keys, saying, “Just a minute…” every time she asked for something.  We got a lot of take-out food.  She watched WAY more TV than we normally let her. Yesterday morning, she very wisely announced, “I don’t want you.  I want Mama.”  I’m just no fun when I’m working.

There was some little nagging part of my brain telling me I should have been taking my daughter to the playground.  Or cleaning.  Mowing the grass or weeding the gardens.  (We have one of those yards that the neighbors must shiver every time they see… totally unkempt and always looking like it’s in the process of turning into a meadow.)

But see, I was on a roll, and I’m always scared that if I stop, I might not be able to get back into it.  So I wrote.  Stuck in another DVD for Zella.  Got out the lollipops.

And when I finally got stuck and came out of my writing haze, I took Zella to a carnival with one of her little friends.  We were standing in line to get on the merry-go-round and saw that one of the ride operators was dressed in a huge black anorak with a fur lined hood and a black neoprene ski mask that covered his face – it was a cool day, in the 50s maybe, but in no way winter jacket weather, much less cold enough for a ski mask.  He looked like a frightening combination of Batman and the Grim Reaper.  He was taking tickets.  He wouldn’t take his mask off, even though he was scaring little children.  Zella was terrified.   I was too, a little.  And what my twisted little brain was thinking was: I want to put this scary, inappropriately dressed guy in my book.   He might just be the very character I’ve been looking for — the guy who will make the scene I’ve been struggling with fall into place.  Sometimes venturing forth is a good thing – and as a bonus, Zella got a much-deserved ride on the merry-go-round.  And some cotton candy!


6 Replies to “On the merry-go-round by Deb Jennifer”

  1. I love cotton candy… but anyway, I’m an aspiring writer and I know that when I begin to write the rest of life gets ignored. Now, add a child into that mix and espressos all around.

  2. We should be neighbors- we have the same lawn. We could invest in some lawn creatures- some plastic deer, those kissing Dutch kids, perhaps a small flock of flamingos….

  3. Her first ice cream treat for PROMISE landing on the Bestseller List and her first(?) cotton candy for the fact that you were on a roll….will Zella begin thinking how sweet and yummy writing can be? 😉

  4. Ooh, creepy guys. There was a guy like that one Halloween (I know, it was Halloween, but still! We live in a kid-friendly neighborhood!), dressed like a cross between the Unabomber and Jason, handing out candy to little mermaids and princesses. And he was reclined the whole time on the bench so the kids had to go to him. If the kids weren’t so desperate for candy (warning to all parents here!), they would have been running. Fast. In the opposite direction.

    I think meeting him on the page would be a little less alarming … but at least I know where this guy lives!

  5. There is a guy at my work that really creeps me out. Just the way that he is, talks to me, looks at me (another woman I work with feels the same way so I know I’m not crazy). But what is extra strange about him is that he always wears a hat. Strange because in a corporate office scenario a hat is very out of place. In the winter it’s a knit cap. Now that summer is coming on he’s switched to a baseball cap.

    At first I thought how unprofessional it is, and well, weird, which just added to his overall creepiness. Then I started wondering what the reason was–baldness isn’t really a good excuse, but maybe he has some strange head anomaly, an exposed metal plate or a freakish scar of some kind.

    Perhaps that’s what was going on with your carnie? Maybe he has a horrific skin disease or burns or the like and the mask actually renders him even less frightening? Definitely some great writing food-for-thought!!

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