Odds and Ends and Subconscious Simmerings

On Sunday afternoons, I’m allowed to write whatever I want.

No guilt or shoulds or fear of deadlines or common sense or logic.

Most often, I keep going on my current main project, but sometimes a blog topic presents itself, or an outline, or I feel like writing a long letter to a friend. I had a query letter attack once, which was weird, and even a poem or two, which were weirder—and immediately shredded, because I am not above hypocrisy.

The idea is to keep the flow going and have fun fun, instead of the serious fun I have during my more purposeful Writing Time. It also tends to appease those nagging plot bunnies and persistent stray thoughts so they don’t interfere with the things I have to get done.

This past Sunday, my subconscious decided to dive into a project I’d fully outlined, but ended up tabling once my Main WIP took off.

Emma is the main character, and it was interesting to see her, and her landlord, through Henry’s eyes—especially as I hadn’t considered giving Henry a POV at all. Even if I don’t, it’s good to know more about him . . .

Here’s part of it, if you’re interested, or even if you’re not, because, you know, it’s my blog:

Brass Lion Head Door Knocker

Henry Pearson was under the venerable beech in front of the House, raking around the roots and trying to decide whether he wanted to diversify his portfolio by going into Rye futures. It wasn’t an actual risk, per se, as he couldn’t afford a single share of anything worth buying, but it was important to be prepared the moment his circumstances changed. And he was justifiably proud of the way his stocks, originally chosen for a project at university and carefully cultivated and culled ever since, had performed, even if he couldn’t directly benefit.

Mother was pleased, too, though she didn’t know anything more about the markets than Henry had told her. Less—his mother had no head for figures and no concept of acceptable risk.

A movement caught his eye and he stopped raking as a woman walked past him and right up to the door that had been carved out of solid oak in 1796 for the grandson of Sir Ignatius Curwood. She ignored the bell handle, which had been installed in 1858 by the wife of Alastair Curwood, and used the heavy brass knocker instead.

His mother was in town doing the shopping, but Henry stayed where he was. The old man could answer his own door for once, and it would irritate him to do so for a woman who was clearly no one important.

He wasn’t concerned with being caught eavesdropping—his presence had been selectively ignored for so many years that Henry sometimes wondered if he’d become a literal blind spot.

The door swung open and the old man stood in the doorway, his lean frame upright, nose flared. Henry’s mother had told him that Richard Curwood had once been the best-looking man in all of Derbyshire, but these days he resembled a vulture who was very particular about his carrion.

“Mr. Curwood?” the woman asked, after a moment. She sounded American.


“I’m Emma Rheardon. I’ve just rented Spindle Cottage and—“

“Take up any problems with the agency,” the old man said, in the same tone he used when he thought Henry’s mother was being particularly stupid. “They’ll contact me, if they need to.” He moved to close the door.

The woman held her ground. “I thought I’d save Susan Morris the trouble,” she said calmly.

The door stopped. “Why?”

“Because I want more bookshelves and an Internet connection, and also to know why she didn’t want to ask you about them.”

Henry almost snickered, both at the old man’s expression and what he was about to do to this holiday tourist.

“You won’t be here long enough to need that rubbish.”

“Yes, I will; I have a two-year lease. I’ll pay for it all, if you like,” she added.

Henry frowned. Spindle Cottage had a long-term tenant? He hadn’t known that was possible; the old man must have changed the listing.

“I don’t like,” the old man was saying. “The cottage is fine as it is.”

“Well, you’ve answered my third question, anyway.” From the sound of her voice, she was smiling.

He glared at her through dark, hooded eyes. “You’re American.”


“What d’ya want to live in it for, if it isn’t to your liking?”

“It is to my liking. I’d buy it, if you weren’t so attached.”

She was needling the old man—and he was allowing it.

Henry felt like he was standing on shifting ground.

“And you have enough funds to buy it? Just like that?”


A look of deep suspicion crossed the sharp-nosed face. “How?”

“I write books,” she said.

Books,” he said, his lip curling. “Romances, I suppose.”

“No,” she said. “If I wrote those, I could buy a bigger cottage with enough bookshelves and pre-existing Internet access. But I don’t and Spindle Cottage suits me, so here I am.”

There was a pause, and Henry wondered if she was about to be annihilated on the spot. “I won’t sell it,” the old man growled.

“All right,” she said, as if she had no idea how close she’d come. “Can I add the shelves and the Internet line?”

“You’ll pay?”

Henry almost spoke in protest. As much as it fascinated him to see someone stand up to Richard Curwood, it was wrong to see him give in, even for something like this.

“Yes,” she said.

“Nothing cheap, and no damages.”

“Of course not. Is there a place I can store some of the furniture? Mine will be arriving soon.”


“Mine. From the States.”

Henry’s eyebrows rose. She must be well-off, if she could afford to ship her things overseas. He remembered one of his professors saying that the richest people in the world never looked it—but, then, Americans were always careless with their money.

The old man’s eyebrows had lowered. “So the furniture’s not good enough for you, either?”

Had the belligerent tone softened? No. Impossible.

“Some of it’s very good,” she said. “But I have some things of my mother’s that I’d like to use.”

The old man sucked a tooth. “Fine. Someone will be by to pick up your rejects.”

Henry glared. He knew who that someone would be.

But it would be an easy way to find out more about this Emma Rheardon and what she intended to do to Spindle Cottage. His mother would want to know; the two-year tenancy would worry her, though leases were broken every day, and whatever changes the woman made could be put right again.

She wouldn’t stay—she didn’t belong here.

“Thank you, Mr. Curwood,” she said, just as though she thought she did. “If you decide to sell, you’ll know where I’ll be.”

The old man stared at her a moment, then shut the door.

“Well,” she said, as she walked down the path. “That was interesting. Is he always like that?” she asked, stopping in front of Henry.

He blinked. Her pale eyes pinned him in place, unsettling him—he wasn’t sure if it was their odd golden color or that they had noticed him at all. When had she seen him?

What had she seen?

“Yes,” he said.

“Hmm.” She offered him a friendly nod and went on her way.

It wasn’t until she’d passed through the gates that he realized he was clutching the rake handle so tightly it hurt.

I have no plans to switch out projects at the moment, but I’m taking this as a reminder from my subconscious that it has plans for this story, once my main WIP is done. That’s a pretty good feeling . . .

What do  YOU do with your persistent odds and ends?


11 thoughts on “Odds and Ends and Subconscious Simmerings

    • Thanks, Downith—I was hoping for your opinion on this one.

      I don’t think it’s a requirement to be able to place Derbyshire, but I’m depending heavily on Google maps, so . . .

  1. “as well as” works fine. I was amused at the final question you posed, as “persistent odds and ends” make up the whole of my writing inspiration. I’m sure it’s a little more distracting for the focused prose writer. I am amazed sometimes at what instigates a poem (a color, sound, thought, picture, conversation, word, fruit, plants, clouds, …it’s all fair game). And, please share….there’ll be no judgement from me. Much of my writing is, well, “garbage” in the sense that I don’t believe it will ever be of publishable quality. I still post it and hope for a response from thoughtful readers, though mostly from bots and advertisers…ok, now I’m rambling…sorry. Very nice writing by the way, A good hook for a story.

    • Whew! 😀

      Odds and ends are a LOT more distracting for the unfocused prose writer, too (or at least this one).

      I love the range of your work, John, always have. I think ‘publishable quality’ is even more subjective for poetry than for prose . . . our collective, cultural loss, really.

      I promise—the next time my muse begins muttering in meter, I’ll share. 🙂

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