There are so many things to consider when writing a book, Dud thought. Sometimes, as now in the middle of a hot summer night, he wondered how anyone actually finishes a book. The odyssey of his writing passion, tentatively called “Murder in the Soggy Bottoms” by him and “The Duchess and the Truck Driver” by the rest of his friends, is a case in point.
It began several years ago as a murder mystery, but was rejected for having eight murders in the first chapter. He then peeled it down to three, but couldn’t figure out what to do to the other five former victims who seriously needed killing.
Then he married Anita and he decided to concentrate more on the love angle, the American truck driver on secret assignment to the duchess’s European realm. They fell in love at the truck stop below the hill holding her castle, he knew that, all right.
And then Marvin Pincus started fixing up the love lives of several of us here in the valley, and Dud was sent journalistically careening off into more conundrums, because he admired Marvin’s work and tried to discover how to fit it into a European truck stop murder and love drama. It was hard.
Did Mark Twain have to go through all this just to introduce Tom and Huck to the world of literature? How long did Louis L’Amour ponder and sweat before finally figuring out how to fix Ange Kerry up with Tell Sackett?
And then there was the byline problem. ‘Dud Campbell’ just didn’t have that … salable ring to it. I mean, we all know what a dud is, don’t we? So he decided to initialize himself. How about H. Dudley Campbell? Or W. Dudley Campbell? He wanted his friends to know he’d written the thing, but he also wanted to sell them to serious readers in the cities.
So, as Anita was already asleep, leaving him with just the computer, his thoughts, and half a cup of coffee, Dud did what any writer on a hot summer night would do. He clicked on his favorite icon and played solitaire until his eyes closed.