Writing about writing a book – Day 4

Of course, by this time, a lot has changed and what I had discussed before now needs a few changes, so I have made the necessary amendments where required to the narrative, but that doesn’t mean I won’t revisit it sometime in the future.


It was a late night last night, reading and rereading, considering plot lines, new characters, and demolishing a six-pack.

It’s debatable if it is helping the creative process.  It has left me with a slight headache.

I drag myself out of bed and look out the window.  Bright sunshine, blue sky, slight breeze.

11:00 am.  Half the day is gone.

My stomach rumbles, I need something to eat.  I stagger out to the kitchen and look in the fridge.  OK, too busy to go shopping, time to make time.  A writer has to eat!


Three hours have passed and it’s mid-afternoon.  A new plan is required.  I need to make sure I don’t waste the day and write a certain number of words, otherwise, this book will never get written.

Bed: midnight

Rise: 7:00 am, go for a run to clear the head

Breakfast: 8:00 am

Writing: 9:00 am to ??

Let’s just see if that works tomorrow.


I sit down and stare at the pad.

Plotting:  Our main character is an IT department manager, whose main responsibility from the start, and at that time, he was alone and not the manager of anything, was setting up and keeping the network running.  These were the early days of Ethernet, token ring, and 3-Com, in moving from mainframes to desktops and servers.

I remember it well, and my first client/server network was 3-Com and Ethernet.

In the story scenario, Bill literally is indispensable because the job he performs is single point sensitive, even though Benton refuses to act on employing another network engineer.  This is art imitating life because so many places have similar situations.

So the reason why Benton is calling Bill; there is a crisis.

Some accountant is found shot dead at his desk, novel but not unheard of.  I know a few accountants who deserve just that.

That’s not the problem though, it’s the fact the network is down, and Benton is almost hysterical (after he makes a promise to his superiors that he can’t keep!).  Nothing unusual there with the sort of person he is, and like many in similar situations.


Scribble, scribble …


Another five minutes, then the phone began its shrill insistence again.  Before it rang again, I’d moved it from the floor to the bed.  I counted the rings, to ten, and then picked up the receiver.

“Bill?  Don’t hang up.”  Almost pleading.

“Why?  You said I should go, away from work, away from the phones, away to recharge my batteries, I believe you said.”

“That was Friday.  This is Monday. You’re needed.  Richardson has been found shot dead by his desk.  All hell has broken loose!”  Benton rarely used adjectives, so I assumed when he said all hell had broken loose, it meant something had happened he couldn’t fix.  His flowery language and telegram style had momentarily distracted my attention from Richardson’s fate.

Harold Richardson was an accountant, rather stuffy, but good at his job.  I’d spoken to him probably twice in as many years, and he didn’t strike me as the sort who would kill himself.  So why did I think that?  Benton had only said he was shot.

Benton’s voice went up an octave, a sure sign he was going into meltdown.  “It’s a circus down here.  Jennifer is missing, Giles is not in yet, the network is down, and that bunch of nincompoops you call support staff are running around the office like headless chooks.”

It all came out in a nonstop sentence, followed by a gasp for air.  It gave me time to sift the facts.  Jennifer, the Assistant Manager, and responsible for data entry and accounts maintenance, was not there, which in itself was unusual, because she kept longer hours than me, Peter Giles, my youthful assistant, just out of university and still being beaten into shape was also not in, and that was usual, so it could only mean one thing.

The network was down.

It was my responsibility since I’d recommended it and then won the support of management over his objections, and following that it had become a point of continual contention, a petty war neither of us was going to win.

I tried to keep the joy out of my voice. 

He’d also vetoed my recommendation for an extra full-time network engineer as my alternative, and in doing so Benton had made my job become single point sensitive.  There was no one to replace me if anything went wrong.


Richardson has nothing to do with the plot, he just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, but someone else further up the chain of command will be.  That’s something to look forward to, though I’ve yet to decide what happens.

As for Benton, he will linger around for a while, but has no real part to play, except perhaps as the comic light relief.  He will get a rude awakening at the end.

Try not to make it too technical, no one really wants to know about computer systems, just the machinations of the people who are creating the problems and why.


© Charles Heath 2016 – 2020

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