The Game: Chapter 11

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Chapter 11

On the way to the library, there was snow on the ground, and more coming down at a steady clip. Four hours of Dewey Decimal System did not improve matters: huge, fat, lazy chunks of snow too large to be called flakes, coating the earth in white, piling up even in the intersections.

James called the arena. The afternoon performance was canceled because the band bus was stuck in a ditch thirty miles south of Newark. No doubt Tokyo Sunrise was a write off as well.

Snow day.

Two hours of it was spent on the fifteen minute trip home. When the radio started talking instead of singing, James turned it off. The best time to work on a project was downtime between other things. Sometimes the pressure of a blank screen staring him in the face disrupted the creative process. Two hours brainstorming in the car was worth a good amount of actual writing.

By the time he got home, two more inches of snow had fallen. The city ground completely to a halt. Most of the plows were still mothballed. It would be morning at least before the side streets like his were cleared.

2:17 PM. Time to get a ton of writing done. And since the business plan was finished, no work projects loomed. James sat at the computer, rubbed his hands together and began to type.

In writing, James was a believer in organic situations. Rather than exhaustively plotting the direction of the story, he tried to bring characters vividly to life and then just throw them into situations, creating a story through interactions. Believable characters with real motivations were the essence of good storytelling; no random plot devices flying out of left field because the author was shepherding things too much. But the organic style came with its own difficulties. Because the characters were in control, the stories never seemed to go where James expected, and many sat half-finished for years, all direction lost.

Today's story felt good. The situation was interesting and the personalities were coming to life. James valued characters with eccentricities. A good-looking, intelligent, affluent and likeable hero, who always knew by the end that Colonel Mustard did it in the Study with the Letter Opener, was never going to have a real personality. The character might achieve popularity through wish fulfillment, but authenticity was more important.

Then again, maybe that unwillingness to compromise principles for success was what left James working four jobs and writing more business plans than stories. Put in those terms, it sounded like failure.

Proud failure, at least.

At twenty minutes to four, James sat back and stretched, the growl in his stomach attesting to having skipped lunch. He pawed through the fridge for something that wasn't long past the expiry date. The first item to satisfy that rather strict condition was a tub of strawberry yogurt that he ate while leaning against the kitchen counter; the room was too small for a table.

He had accomplished a lot. Eight pages was as much as he normally wrote in a week. It might not hurt to relax for a while.

Shattered Land ho.

James came into the world exactly the way he had left it, on his back on the hill. Apparently the park was a designated rest zone, not requiring transport to an inn for the next login. He took a deep breath of air laden with the scent of flowers and leaves, and immediately spewed it back out as his phone began to beep. Whoever was calling, it was as if they had been staring at their phone, waiting for him to log in.

A vidcall. James held the phone up hesitantly. "Casey?"

"Heya Prez!" A brilliant grin and equally brilliant shock of golden hair greeted him with a salute. "Dang, y'all like cuttin it close. Was startin to think ya weren't gonna make it."

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