Today I woke up to a trail of trash running from my kitchen, through the dining room, across the living room, down the steps, through the family room and piled in a disgusting crescent around the unlocked crate of my dog, Verdi, who was peacefully sleeping off her night of binge eating.
I latched her into her crate, took a deep breath and decided I didn’t want to start my day furious or overwhelmed.
My smaller dog, Nico, who cannot open the drawer trash can made sure to tell me he was not to blame for this mess. I, who enjoys sleeping as long as I can, only had a limited window of time to feed my son, prepare his lunch, get him ready for school and drink coffee so I swept the items in our direct path and told Nico, while I knew he didn’t get into the trash, I didn’t believe that he had refused to partake in the foul feast. He responded by slinking away to the family room.
The story doesn’t end there.
When I returned, the proof of Nico’s participation was waiting for me right inside the door on the festive Christmas welcome mat. And he he had walked through it a few times.
I got through it. I managed to feed my daughter and put on her favorite show. My house is now much cleaner than it was before, and I keep thinking about the sequence of events that allowed such a ridiculous mess to happen.
Often times as writers, we write a big event and don’t consider the little events that lead up to it. The ones that went unnoticed. The ones that wouldn’t have mattered at all if they hadn’t contributed to the huge mess our character is suddenly in.
It’s not necessarily important for me to point out that I had asked my husband to take the trash out the night before but he forgot because my son woke up asking for a glass of water. It’s rather uninteresting that my son, earlier in the day, pulled the lower latch on the dog crate, which I never use to lock it, or that I stayed up too late watching “The OA” (great show by the way) so I was too tired to notice when I put the dog in and it kept the top latch from catching properly. Or that if I hadn’t scolded Nico he wouldn’t have slunk off and I might have noticed that he was also trying to ask me to let him out. All these little details are hardly significant. They are just side notes, illustrations of typical family life in my house.
Until you realize that if just one of those things didn’t happen, when it did, the mess could have been completely avoided. And that is actually kinda cool.
Not for me. I had to clean it up.
But in terms of plotting a book, well, those of the kind of things that take a good story and make it great. (unless your story is about a giant dog mess. That’s really a pretty mundane story unless you’re the one cleaning it).
If Cammie hadn’t left the pocket watch out, Kyle wouldn’t have noticed it. If he hadn’t noticed it, he wouldn’t have gone to the antique store to look for one for himself, if he hadn’t gone to the antique store, he wouldn’t have bought the Dibbuk box. If he hadn’t bought the Dibbuk box that Selene wouldn’t have murdered the Kramers, who, as it turns out, were the ones who had sold the Dibbuk box to the antique shop in the first place.
Damn it Cammie. Couldn’t you have been just a little more careful with your shit?