Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Writing Brain

Guido Marussig-1885-1972--The Fan and the Eyes I think that mystery writers must have a very carefully suppressed criminal mind.

Apparently I look like a really innocuous person. Plus, maybe, a little foggy. I’ve ordinarily got my mind on other things as I’m wandering around.

I’m amazed at the number of times a stranger will get me to hold something for them or watch something for them while they hurry off to do something else. “Do you mind standing here with the car while I load it?” And their car is running while they run in the store to get whatever heavy item it is. And I think, “Wow. I could just drive right off with this car.” (I also wonder what the heck I’m supposed to do if a bad guy does come up to the car. It’s not like I’m armed or anything. I’d probably just let them take the thing.)

The number of open cash tills I’ve witnessed while clerks find managers to help them with a register problem is truly amazing. I could just reach in, grab wads of cash, and walk right out the store door.

My husband’s car hates me. His car alarm went off while I was driving. A policeman pulled me over, came to my window and then lazily said, “You certainly don’t look like a car thief to me. Do you know how to disable that alarm, ma’am? It’s distracting for other drivers. Do you have your manual with you?” I could have been driving a stolen car.

One set of denim-clad legs looks very much like another when you’re two years old. I was at Target some months ago, hurrying out the door, through the parking lot, clutching a bunch of shopping bags. I was loading up the trunk area of the mini van when I felt a set of arms go around my leg. I was horrified, as was the toddler who’d followed me out the Target, to my car. “We’ve got to find your Mommy!” I said, looking for whoever at the Target looked like she might be having a heart attack. All I needed for my Wednesday morning was to be locked away as a kidnapper.

As I swung around, there was a panicky mom just coming out of the Target. She saw me and relaxed, then hurried over. She said, “I’m so sorry! I guess she just thought you were me.”

I could have been a kidnapper. I could have been a really horrible person.

But I’m not. But I concoct really horrible people… easily. That’s because I can see the dark side of any situation and I’m always thinking ahead to the next mystery.

And now I’m thinking that I need to create a bad guy who looks and acts like me. :) She’ll completely escape detection.

I’m not sure how many other people go about their day thinking about possible criminal activities or motives for murder. I have a feeling that I’m in the minority among regular non-criminal citizens.

Do you find, as a writer, that you look at the world in a different way? How?