Monday, October 15, 2018

45 Hours

45 Hours by Debra H. Goldstein

 45 hours.

That’s all my daughter and I had.
We landed at La Guardia at 11 on Friday night knowing we had to move fast – our departure time from New York City was at eight on Sunday. How much could we pack into forty-five hours?

Answer: A lot – 3 Broadway shows, 2 decent dinners, numerous snacks including pizza by the slice from a hole-in-the-wall pizzeria, touring St. Patrick’s, shopping at Uniglo, and strolling through Central Park paying special attention to the Strawberry Fields section where the IMAGINE tribute to John Lennon is.

Maybe the speed of our trip heightened my senses. Perhaps it was that delicious slice of pizza passed through a little window out of the tiniest shop I have ever set foot in. Customers crowded inside, glanced at stacked warming trays being kept filled with pizzas constantly pulled from the oven, ordered, paid and went outside to wait on the sidewalk of 46th Street. Most likely, it is that I’ve finally become a more “aware” writer. That awareness led me to observe and remember what I saw to use in a future story or book.

I can easily see the pizza window in one of my new Sarah Blair cozy mystery books or a cleaned-up version of the waitress at another restaurant who complained because “they all want to hold the f*ing cheese as if that’s the fattening part of their order.” Future dialogue will probably be lifted from the language I heard on the street and in theaters, even when I couldn’t translate it. I was fascinated by the difference in the “Silence your Cell phone” messages at Kinky Boots and The Band’s Visit. The first had an English bloke talking on a cell phone so the audience could overhear his conversation requesting the bloody racket of even vibrate be done away with while the second presented the request through an elegant slide show.

In the past, sounds and surrounding activities made an impression on me, but I never converted them into literary scenes. Now, they play out like little Instagram moments or story boards in my mind. Rather than simply remember them, I will recreate my impressions and memories in a more lasting format.

Do you remember when your mind clicked, and your life became part of your writing?


  1. Plots, scenes, characters--they are always all around us if we pay attention!

  2. Yes. I was eavesdropping in the produce section of Rouse's in New Orleans.

  3. Absolutely, I was seven and my friend and I were making lanyards in my backyard. We were chatting and I finished my sentence with, she said. All these years later I can still see the scene in my mind.

  4. I was only in New York City once when my sisters and I were visiting a niece who lived in New Jersey and we took a train there. I enjoyed it a lot.

    Yes, I have heard conversations when I was in a restaurant waiting for my sister to show up and I used the conversation in one of my books. And yes, there are a lot of other things I've noticed over the years that I can include in my books or stories.

  5. Early on, I took copious notes when I went to restaurants, movies, etc. How people dressed, how they spoke, how they leaned in to each other or sat spread apart, how they table is quiet except for eating because they are texting each other, were all grist for my notebook.

    Now, I don't pay any special attention, but like a video recording in the background, I can often pull it all up for mental replay if I try. And, if I take even one picture, it can be a trigger to recall everything that happened.