I decided not to produce any words today: Conway Sax, my protagonist, gets a breather.
And a well earned one. At the beginning of October, Conway had just met Andy Phigg. Andy’s the only son of Tander Phigg Jr., the heir to a Fitchburg, Massachusetts, paper-mill fortune who blew his inheritance (how?) and hanged himself (or did he?) in a squalid outbuilding in Rourke, New Hampshire.
Busy month for Conway:
- He learned that the week before his father’s death, Andy Phigg returned from four years in Vietnam with a wife and 3-year-old son in tow. Nice timing, eh? And why’d he vanish to Vietnam for such a long time? Have anything to do with his (now departed) father?
- He went to New York City to talk with an 80-year-old contemporary-art dealer who knew the late Tander Phigg during Phigg’s Bohemian phase, which sticks out like a sore thumb because he was otherwise a straight arrow.
- During that NYC jaunt, he encountered a rude young fellow in an art gallery and felt compelled to teach the gent some manners, Conway Sax style.
- He rescued Ollie Dufresne, proprietor of an automotive garage in Rourke, from a trio of hillbillies. In return for the rescue, he persuaded Ollie to explain how and why he got into the heroin-smuggling business. (Oh, he also learned Ollie did a stint in the French Foreign Legion. Which explains why he was cool as a cucumber even when Conway poured three gallons of gas over his head and lit an acetylene torch. But enough about that stuff I wrote back in September.)
- He served as emcee at a memorial service held for Tander by the Barnburners, the tightknit AA group for whose members Conway does favors, up to and including breaking legs and killing.
- When he emerged from the memorial service, he got a call from the local insane asylum, which informed Conway they’ve got a new patient who claims to be …
There’s more, but you get the gist. In October I wrote 17,263 words, which comes out to 69 pages. I’m pleased with that pace. I’ve been shooting for 1,000 words a day, four days a week.
This novel (working title: Paid in Full, though I’m not overjoyed with that and am toying with others. What do you think of 5 Good Years? How about Died Sober?) looks to be longer than the previous two; the twist in the final bullet point above marks the one-third mark, and I’m 32,000 words (127 manuscript pages) in. I truly doubt the final manuscript will be 96,000 words; I’m shooting for something closer to 75,000. We’ll see.