Mild Obsessions

In the U.S. many people are “hunkered down,” hoarding toilet paper, watching alarming television and buying guns.  Nothing to worry about here.  In my world I had been doing a couple of those things for some time; and no, hoarding toilet paper was not one of them.

Writing is a one-person activity.  Others may contribute by editing or even kibitzing; but during the writing phase it’s just a one-person job.  The more engaged I am with the story the more I withdraw; this does not make me a great companion.  Social distancing has been my modus operandi for some time.  However, social distancing sounds so much better than self-absorbed asshole.

My writing over the last few months has not been consistent.  Of course, I broke my arm which didn’t help; but the writing was already stalled before that event.  I’ve read other authors talk about the importance of writing every day, and I can sure see the logic in that, as far as achieving a goal of a completed book—just keep plugging away.  What I have not been able to do is stay sufficiently self-absorbed to allow the words to flow.  I’m sure this won’t show up as a requirement to being a successful, and productive author; but it would appear to me that being a self-absorbed asshole might be a necessary quality. 

We all set priorities in our lives, allowing us to concentrate on what is most important.  There are people who would list fishing or golfing or even work as their top priorities.  But if encouraged to think about it a little deeper, most would list different things, such as: family, happiness or health.  The most creative, obsessed artist, writer, self-absorbed asshole would say their “work” is the most important; or said another way, they are the most important thing in their life.

For reasons based mostly on his photographs, I think of Tolstoy in this tormented, obsessed category.  There is no doubt based on the photos –the man was nuts.  War and Peace had over 500 characters, another reason to conclude he wasn’t sane.  Many of the greatest creative people in history had a very loose grip on sanity.  So is that good to be nuts and bad to be “normal?”  Only if you are interested in writing a 1200 page novel.

On the other hand, mild obsession might be okay. 

I’m in the process of researching a new book.  The story will take place in Las Vegas, New Mexico.  At one time (long ago) I had a consulting practice with offices in Las Cruces and Albuquerque.  I had clients all over New Mexico.  One of my clients was located in Las Vegas.  It is close to a 5-hour drive from Las Cruces to Las Vegas or about 300 miles.  New Mexico is a huge, sparsely populated state. 

For many of my client visits, I would spend a few nights in Las Vegas and got to know the town.  It is a very unusual and interesting place; with a ton of history.  They have over 900 buildings listed on the National Historical Building register.

“The arrival of the railroad on July 4, 1879, brought with it businesses, development and new residents, both respectable and dubious. Murderers, robbers, thieves, gamblers, gunmen, swindlers, vagrants, and tramps poured in, transforming the eastern side of the settlement into a virtually lawless brawl. Among the notorious characters were such legends of the Old West as: dentist Doc Holliday and his girlfriend Big Nose Kate, Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, Mysterious Dave Mather, Hoodoo Brown, and Handsome Harry the Dancehall Rustler.

Historian Ralph Emerson Twitchell once claimed regarding the Old West, “Without exception there was no town which harbored a more disreputable gang of desperadoes and outlaws than did Las Vegas.”

I think this is going to be a fun backdrop for my next mystery novel (yet to be named). 

Hyman G. Neill, better known as Hoodoo Brown, was the leader of the Dodge City Gang in Las Vegas, New Mexico, in 1879 and early 1880. According to Harold Thatcher, curator of the Rough Rider Museum in Las Vegas, Hoodoo was “the baddest cowboy of them all.” He was described as tall and thin, with light hair, a rakish look, and a small moustache.

When Hoodoo arrived in Las Vegas, New Mexico, he found it was developing a reputation as a lawless place filled with outlaws, confidence tricksters, murderers and thieves. His displeasure with this led to his election as Justice of the Peace for East Las Vegas. He also served as coroner and mayor of the town, and recruited several former gunfighters from Kansas to form a police force. However, the force was as lawless as the criminals they were supposed to be policing. Called the “Dodge City Gang,” the force included J. J. Webb as the town marshal, Mysterious Dave Mather, Joe Carson, “Dutchy” Schunderberger and Dave Rudabaugh.

Wow, what wonderful names.  Can’t wait to get this started.  Starting to feel mildly obsessed, again.

Thanks for being a reader!

Coming soon Audio Books………

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Ted Clifton, award winning author, is currently writing in three mystery series—Pacheco & Chino Mystery series, the Muckraker Mystery series and the Vincent Malone series. Clifton’s focus is on strong character development with unusual backdrops. His books take place in Southwest settings with some of his stories happening in the 1960s, 1980s and current times. The settings are places Clifton has lived and knows well, giving great authenticity to his narratives. Clifton has received the IBPA Benjamin Franklin award and the CIPA EVVY award--twice. Ted is also an artist. Much of his work, digital, acrylic and watercolor, has been inspired by living in New Mexico for many years. Today Clifton and his wife reside in Denver, Colorado, with frequent visits to one of their favorite destinations, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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