I’m not the kind of blogger to regale one with the contents of my regular days, nor the contents of my lunch, but today provoked me to ramble a little. After spending a rather productive morning coming up with a surprising 2000 words on a short story about a shyster couple in Switzerland running from the Italian cosa nostra, and then visiting the garden store with my girlfriend to find items to brighten up our back yard—though my job was to take care of Bogi, our hyperactive dog, outside the store—I came back to the apartment and proceeded to join two organizations. The Mystery Writers of America, and then, the International Thriller Writers, Inc.
Now, why did I do this? It’s like the story where a man goes to work, comes home, plays with the dog and the kids, eats dinner, goes to bed with his wife, then for no known reason, gets out of bed and slaughters the whole family, including, tragically, the dog.
OK, well, it’s not quite like that. But the facts are these: Last year, both of these esteemed organizations invited me to join their ranks. I, in turn, skimmed the literature they’d sent, then threw it in the trash. Me, a joiner? Come on. In high school I’d even been troubled to be part of my sole organization, the German Club, because…well, because it seemed ludicrous to live in an alternate reality where my name was Markus instead of Olen, and where the conversations were primarily about what was on a fictional German menu.
I suppose the reasons are obvious. Writing is an intensely solitary task. Outside of grad school, I’d seldom commiserated with other writers. And in grad school, I learned, there was less commiseration than jealousy, which led to most of the cardinal sins. So I spent my time with nonwriters, with musicians, painters, budding filmmakers and amateur philosophers. Only recently have I fallen in with journalists, but that’s still different, their craft as mysterious to me as mine is to them.
But times change. I had the good fortune of being nominated for an Edgar, and in the process met my first batch of crime writers, who were all swell and, more to the point, supportive of each other. You don’t get that everywhere, and Ken has noted this to me, that within the crime genre people actually want one another to succeed, whether or not they’re disappointed about losing an award, which in the end means rather little. Since then, through the internet, I’ve met many more interesting and funny characters who are part of this world of mystery, and I’ve liked it. I’ve liked calling them, if not friends, then at least acquaintances.
So, today, in the space of twenty minutes, I suddenly expanded the circle in which I walk. I haven’t met most of these other members, and it’s possible I never will, but it’s nice, when you’re on the edge of your own known world, to know they’re there.
(Originally posted at the Contemporary Nomad)