A Writer’s Challenge

There’s always something trying to trip up a writer – a convoluted plot, pesky characters, a mountain of laundry… or an ongoing test of nerves caused by clattering dishes in the cupboard, the roar of diesel engines and the almost constant beeping of trucks backing up somewhere close.


construction cropped

I live in a small historical town on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay where just about everything is old, including the sewer system.  Last March, the town announced it was time to replace it and rebuild the streets as well.  Work would be done by mid-May!  Great idea!

I wasn’t born yesterday.  I tacked on another four weeks and settled in:   Little sleep since their workday starts at 6:30 AM and I like to write at night.   Diesel fumes.  One worker explained that it was better for the engines to keep them running.  For twenty minutes UNATTENDED?!  I could have gone for a joyride on a front-end loader.  The appearance of prehistoric-size crickets displaced from around the pipes five feet down.  At least they weren’t roaches.

Cody Small

And, there were prescription tranquilizers for Cody who hates loud noises and strangers in front of the house.



Then one afternoon, the bottom dropped out of the plan… and the street!

Behemoth cropped

To save time and money, the street-building contractor brought in an earth-mover to take up the old asphalt.  It was almost four car-lengths long and 14 feet high.  My little street was built on a bed of oyster shells on a high water table.  The behemoth caused the street to collapse 17” along a 260-foot stretch.

And there was the battle to save my beautiful, 40-foot weeping oak tree someone planted in the utility easement ground.  Not smart, but who knew there would be construction people itching to use their chain saws sixty years later?  I tried all the grownup communication channels, but one morning, I went out to get my newspaper and found an orange stake firmly planted in the ground to mark the construction line straight through the tree’s trunk.

That did it.  I marched down the center of the street toward a cluster of workmen, screeching!  Being an adult hadn’t worked so I kicked and screamed and threatened to lash myself to the tree after calling the media.  The threats worked.  The tree is safe.  Somehow, I finished my third book in the Silver Mystery series and Cody is off the meds.  The street?  Oh, they’re still working and it is August 5th, but I’m not counting anymore.  The crew chief politely texts me when traffic and access to my driveway will be disrupted.  Today, they’re laying asphalt… again.  I’m told this doesn’t mark the end.

I started a new book last night, so I guess this writer met the challenge and, with the help of a little civil disobedience, triumphed!



A Writer’s Challenge — 3 Comments

  1. “kicked and screamed and threatened to lash myself to the tree after calling the media.” LOVE it!

    I know it’s been hard, and it’s worse when they STILL aren’t done, but you’re still alive – and so is the tree! Maybe they’ll be done before, hmm, winter storms?

    Glad you’re working on the next book – can’t wait!

  2. The St .Petersburg, Russia pipe system is about 150 years old, and their hot water is still centralized. Most buildings still get their hot water from the city. To make sure the pipes won’t break in winter, every August the city tests by forcing water through at very high pressure. Wherever the system breaks, they repair.

    So… after arriving at our rented apartment imagine our surprise when, one day later, all the hot water disappeared. Residents were non-plussed. “Oh, it’ll come back in 6 weeks.”

    Seems to me there has to be a better way–in both cases!

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