The Right Way to Write

“I adore Stephen King but of course I won’t read him during the summer months.”  Constance delivered this statement matter-of-factly and with a small but sure nod, as though punctuating the declaration with her head.

Her sister Imogene finished sipping her tea and replaced the cup in its saucer.  The porcelain made a delicate clinking sound, the exact same pitch as Imogene’s voice as she asked, “Why ever not?”

“Oh it’s much too warm in the summer to read anything by King.”  

Imogene teetered on the event horizon of a question, then frowned and said, “I don’t understand.”

“Well, Mr King’s work reminds us of all of the awfulness that lurks in the dark.  One needs a large cover of some sort under which to hide from the evil.  In the summer, it’s much too warm for a large cover and a light cover just won’t do.  So it’s best not to read any King at all until the mercury drops and it’s cooler at night.”

Imogene had to admit that her sister’s argument was compelling, one which deserved a more thoughtful examination.  “So you’re saying that you don’t read any of King’s books from mid May to Labour Day?”

“That’s right.”

“Even if there should be a cool spell in, say, the month of June?”

“Even so.”

Imogene stopped to consider this latest information.  Constance responded to her sister’s wrinkled forehead by saying, “It just doesn’t pay to take chances with the forces of darkness.”

“It just seems a shame; after all, a macabre novel awakens the senses and sets the imagination aflame with all manner of images and reckonings.”

The sisters sat in contemplation for a short while, each mulling over the comments of the other until Imogene broke the silence.  “Perhaps you could write a novel that contains all of the elements of that particular genre but which can be read during the warm season.”

Constance thought about this for a while.  “There are a great many people who would thank me for such an effort.”  She thought a few moments longer and eventually amended the ‘thank me’ of the previous sentence to ‘thank us.’

Imogene looked shocked but pleased.  “You really want me to help?”

“I’m certain that between the two of us a great novel is about to be born.”

“How shall we start?  I’ve got a rather nice pad of paper in my room and an idea for an opening line.”

“Oh no Imogene, you mustn’t jump right in with an opening line, no, that won’t do at all.”

Imogene looked slightly hurt at having been jumped on in such an undignified manner but deferred to her sister’s obvious experience in such matters as these.

Constance continued, “No, we shall start this undertaking as we mean to continue.  The Right Way.”  Constance indicated the capital letters with a tilt of her voice as well as a tilt of her eyebrow.  “First of all, we should change out of our present outfits into something more literary.”

Imogene, not wanting to betray her ignorance of such things, raised her right hand to her face and gripped her chin in what she hoped contributed to a contemplative expression.  She frowned and looked as deep in thought as she could.”

“I have just the thing.  I shall wear my tweed jacket, the one Mother gave me last year for my birthday, the one with the patches at the elbows.  And you…” she paused and mentally went through her sister’s wardrobe, ‘you shall wear the green jumper grandmother left you, the one with the fisherman knit and high neck.”

They left the garden and headed off to their respective rooms to don the clothing of authors.  This in itself proved to be a challenge, particularly to Imogene who, to her great consternation, could not locate the green fisherman knit jumper with the high neck that her grandmother had left her.  After a frantic search of the house, she was informed by a maid that her grandfather’s favourite gun dog had got a hold of the jumper a few months back and had been using it as a security blanket.  She despaired at the news and, after much pacing of her room, decided that the robin’s egg blue-twin set would have to act as a literary costume until something more suitable could be found.  With the pearls she had got for her sixteenth birthday included in the outfit she was sure she looked quite literary.  She returned to the garden, hoping that Constance would not be too disappointed.

Upon arriving back in the garden Imogene found Constance setting up a table in the gazebo.  It was a temporary thing and needed a certain amount of skill to assemble.  After a short while the sisters enlisted the help of the gardener who had the table up in a matter of minutes.  The girls then went back into the house for the necessary supplies.  Imogene returned with her writing pad and a pen, Constance with a number of pens of differing colour and weight, three different types of paper, a glass paperweight that had belonged to a long-dead ancestor, a hat, four antique books of varying sizes from her father’s library and a glass of sherry.

She proceeded to assemble the pens, paper and paperweight in front of her, donned the hat and drank the sherry.  Imogene asked about the books.  

“They’re for the table.  Atmosphere.  Very important when you’re trying to create a mood.”

Imogene knew better than to question her sister’s wisdom.  “Now shall we discuss the opening sentence?” Imogene enquired.

“Oh no, Immie, not yet.  First we must have a discussion.”

“About what?”

“About our lives, our ennui, our disappointment and anger at the current establishment and how all of it is affecting our creative skills.”

“What current establishment?”

“Any one will do.  Shall we use the board of the Pinner Operatic Society as our establishment?  I am certainly very disappointed in them.”

Imogene agreed.  The sisters, donned in literary costume and surrounded by literary items designed to inspire, started their conversation with their disbelief at the way the Pinner Operatic Society was organising the Late Summer Gilbert and Sullivan Tribute Extravaganza, the individual board members, the individual board members’ strengths and weaknesses, the physical attributes of the individual board members and the shock that Mssrs Gilbert and Sullivan would feel had they been around today and seen the way the Pinner Operatic Society managed things.  By the time they had got around to discussing what they believed to be their overwhelming and debilitating ennui, the dinner bell had rung.

On their way to dinner, the sisters both agreed that they had made an excellent start to their novel.  But while Constance was adamant that even greater strides would be made in the following days and weeks, and that literary fame would soon be theirs to cherish, Imogene was still unsure if the robin’s egg blue twin-set and pearls was the Right Way.

Copyright Kelly Evans

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