It’s there that I always come to again. The crowds have vanished, and I’m still standing by the washing machine. Rats. Still no novel. I sure wish I could write fiction. Why, even Snoopy took a stab at it. “It was a dark and stormy night. Suddenly, a shot rang out.” That’s how his mystery began. He tried a political thriller. “It was a dark and stormy night. Suddenly, a vote rang out.” Before abandoning his literary efforts entirely, he tried once more. “It was a dark and stormy night. Suddenly, a kiss rang out.” You can see why his career as a novelist never went anywhere. Since I’m a mystery buff, I’d love to write a spine-tingling story that includes spies, a baffling murder in the French Quarter, and the disappearance of a beautiful woman. I’d throw in a down-on-his-luck newspaper reporter with the nose of a bloodhound and a couple of senators, just to mix things up. Who knows? I might even add a Russian and a Colombian drug dealer with a penchant for (what!) English tea. “In her introductory novel, the author crafts a riveting plot with more twists and turns than the famed Route 66. This book will keep you up at night with an unexpected finale that will blindside you completely,” the jacket might say. And the following recommendation could read, “You know a story’s good when you find yourself praying for the characters!” Alright, I said “could.” It “could” read like that. If I can’t write a murder mystery, I’d like to write a political thriller “with a conspiracy that reaches to the highest echelons of power. Danger lurks within the ivory halls where no one is who or what they seem. The stakes couldn’t be higher, and it will take a man like Joe Cool, a retired Green Beret with a bad knee, to sort it all out and knock the right heads together.” Or something like that. I’m not really interested in writing a romance novel. Those story lines have all been taken. It’s pretty much the standard “boy meets girl and they fall in love” theme. Well, I guess there’s the “boy meets girl and the sparks fly. They fight all the time (he just makes her so mad), but secretly, down deep, they harbor a growing attraction for one another. They finally come to their senses, confess their forever love, and share a glorious smooch that causes all their doubts to melt away.” See what I mean? I’m no good at that stuff. I won’t ever write a Western, either. There’s too much dust and shooting in those stories. Besides, when the epic “Shoot Low, Boys, They’re Riding Shetland Ponies” came out, it pretty much closed the book on that genre for me. I’ve got nothing to add. Sigh. Fiction’s out. That much is clear. I guess that leaves me to write “the truth, the whole truth, and…” Well, okay. Mostly the truth.