Caviar Case

by jkatejohnston

20 January 2015

Dear Max,

Last night I told Teresa that I’m going to start getting up at four so I can get some work done. Peels of laughter. I laughed too. But here I am! Four sixteen, cat fed, coffee made, diary and mystery book and nothing else open on computer, chair pulled up to fire. It probably helped that I woke up at two and never really got back to sleep, so it wasn’t a matter of waking up, just getting up.

More work strategies: last night I decided not to listen to my iPod so that my sleepy and sleeping mind would be working on what I’m supposed to be writing instead of listening to the Beeb or an America’s Test Kitchen podcast. (I wonder if there are any podcasts for writers—like a call-in advice show: tips, stories, inspiration!) All this brought on because I can’t catch the thread of my new book: the fish mystery.

Watching The Good Wife, I understand why they don’t let lawyers write the show. It’s all about the people with just enough wildly implausible law to hang the story on, and I don’t mind a bit. But in my story I feel tied down to real life, and I’m making it almost as boring: read police reports, read charging document, visit client in jail, first court appearance, get offer, investigate, bail motion, hire experts, visit client, request discovery, visit client, prelim, visit client, pre-trial motions, visit client, talk to relatives, find some mitigation, make a deal, fail at that, motions in limine, jury selection, openings, evidence, closings, verdicts, and (usually) sentencing. It feels billable—like something you should get paid to read.

Mind you I haven’t written all that. I’m still trying to get through the charging document. In The Good Wife, if the episode is about a crime, the charges are always something simple like: Murder! Never: Possession of Sturgeon or Any Sturgeon Parts Including But Not Limited to Sturgeon Eggs for The Purpose of Sale With the Exception of the Cultured Progeny of an Aquaculturist Who Is Registered Under Section 15101 of The Fish And Game Code.

What am I doing? I want to write about food, loyalty, betrayal, hunger, greed, nature, fear, guilt, defiance, stubborness, intransigence, black bread and caviar and good butter and going Federal. And I don’t know how to do it.