Ah, city sounds. Waking up to a screaming car alarm isn’t ideal, but after a year of creepy pandemic silence I don’t mind the noise. Car alarms. Sirens from the firehouse down the road. Cars and buses. Happy shouters heading to the bar at eleven at night. Those sounds are the neighborhood equivalent of resting your ear on the chest of the person you love most, waiting for the comforting thump-thump. The city lives! Noisily sometimes. But she lives, and that’s good enough for me.

Besides, there’s solidarity in an early morning car alarm. You can imagine all the neighbors grimacing and rolling over in unison. Everyone… TWIRL! Well done, neighbors. Now we’re all awake, so there may as well be coffee.

Some days I can write in the midst of chaos and other days every bit of dust is a distraction. This morning, I needed to clean. I’ve gotten good at writing cozy mysteries on schedule, but these spy novels kick my ass left and right. It’s a strange feeling, to hold a story like a knotted up ball of emotion, and to try to translate all the feelings into a smooth flow. Writing in this way is like clambering up loose gravel. Is is strange that I enjoy this? Cozy mysteries are tidy, and my desk can be a mess. Jessica’s stories are emotionally messy, and I can’t stand a speck of dust.

It’s a relief to let my vocabulary pour forth. To let complexity loose. I write cozy mysteries at an eighth grade reading level, but here, now, in this story, I can let myself write in natural voice. All my paints are at my elbow. By the end of the day I’ll be splattered, feeling no closer to the end than I did yesterday or the day before. My favorite kind of writing is so often a struggle. The struggle is the joy. The struggle is the point.

Speak, Jessica. I’m listening.

Show me what you want me to see.

Into the book I go.

Listening to: Don’t Look Back 🎵