"I am very happy in this work, I do know that. It satisfies me so far. But I wish I could have the music. I really need the music. Have to make the sound of the tractors and the dust of the tractors. I’ll have to have music before that…."
John Steinbeck, "Working Days," Entry #7, June 6, 1938
Coltrane. Baker. Davis. Horn and Horne. McDuff. That’s the music of this novel. Not quite all jazz all the time, but close.
Except, while Steinbeck wrote literally about music (actually, he writes about not being able to hear his music over the washing machine, which is as pedestrian as it gets), he is also talking metaphorically about music.
In other words, does the work – the words on the page – sing?
I’ve begun chapter five and the lady ain’t singing yet. She’s warming up, maybe, but not quite yet stepped up to the mike and belted out whatever tune is in her head. That is because, as much as I preach get in and get going immediately if not sooner, I’m trying to slow down in this series. Much of what I’ve done so far has been warm up. There is a touch of back story, a bit of set up to minor incidents, and two or three bits of major set up.
Yet now, as of 11:30 last night, we have a body.
At least, the rough draft of body. Right now, it’s in the hallway, a shank sticking outta its chest.
So we’re not really singing yet…just sort of moaning. Hopefully, it will eventually sing. Hopefully, the language on the page will match the language in my head and it will all match the music of the death. We have to hear the shrieking alarm beyond me simply saying, "That alarm was noisy, dude." We have to hear the last few moments of life beyond me simply saying, "Then the dude was dead…oh, wow, man." And we have to hear, in the music of the language o the page, the slow spill of blood.
That’s the music Steinbeck was really talking about. It’s much harder to hear and – hopefully – nearly impossible to compose to the standards of the composer.
Up next? The machinery of investigation. Oh, by the way, we are starting with more than 300 suspects.
Hehehehehe…this is where it gets fun.