Finnegans Deciphered

You can chastise, berate, and tongue-lash me if you wish. I face the big rewrite of my just-finished, first draft of The Sleep of Reason, and then I face the task of rewriting all of it with a third-person narrator, yet I have started writing the next novel from the swirling collection of thoughts, images, and impressions that I call my mind.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I’d decided next to begin work on one of the Finnegan murderless mystery novels I have in my stable of works to be written. I’ve titled it Finnegans Deciphered, and that’s been my working title all along (which means a couple of years). If you’re not familiar with the mystery genre, you need to know that many authors who write a series will give the titles gruesomely punning titles. It’s a convention in the genre, and I’m sure it helps readers identify reassuring works by familiar authors.

My Finnegan novels are a series, but I didn’t want to pun my titles, so I decided to begin each with “Finnegan” and then add a word that spoke to the theme or plot of the story. For example, the first one I wrote was Finnegans Awake, both because it deals with someone who cannot sleep and as a play on the James Joyce novel Finnegan’s Wake. This novel is not published and probably doesn’t deserve to be. The second I wrote in that series had the clumsy working title of Finnegans Again, but I changed it to the not-much-better title of Finnegans Festive, since it takes place near the Christmas holidays and actually uses the holiday for part of the mystery. I think this is a good story and might be worth an effort to rescue sometime down the writing road. The third one I wrote was titled Finnegans Afoot both because it involved hiking in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri and as a play on the famous line of Sherlock Holmes, “Come, Watson. The game’s afoot!” (Always looking for pedigree.) Sadly, I lost about a third of this novel in that horrible hard drive crash I had about a year ago. It was out of tone with the other novels I’d written as well as those I’d imagined, involving some serious crime and corruption, and I don’t see myself trying to reconstruct this work.

But the titling pattern remains, and thus Finnegans Deciphered. I’ve only written a flash of first impressions for the opening chapter, but I’ve managed to put down more than a thousand words. I didn’t steal from my usual writing time or routine. Mostly I just scribbled notes as a good, thematic opening suggested itself, and the words just flowed. I’ve been keeping a file of notes about this novel all along (remember, two years?), and that’s grown to more than 5,000 words. It certainly seems like a workable premise, so it would be wrong to not take the words down as they come to me, regardless of the other work I must do on The Sleep of Reason.

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