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How to Handle the Case of the Wintry Mix February 2, 2011

Posted by laurenrobbins6 in writing.
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The face of a black windup alarm clock

Image via Wikipedia

A few snow storms ago, I was poking through a very clever book, which is called (if I remember correctly) The Quotable Lawyer. And it was filled with inside jokes and law truisms–all much more interesting than it sounds. There was one quote in particular that caught my attention:

The lawyer’s first thought in the morning is how to handle the case of the ringing alarm clock.–Edward Packard, Jr.

 The image that first popped into my head was someone in a suit staring quizzically at a ringing alarm clock. Or something a la Sam Spade with a smoky office in black and white and a private investigator taking down a statement from someone who was awoken by their still ringing alarm.

 But, I thought, by no means is this quote limited to lawyers. You could subsitute a lot of other professions and people instead. For instance: “The writer’s first thought in the morning is how to handle the case of the ringing alarm clock.” 

If you think about it, it’s true, isn’t it?  A writer is constantly looking around for potential stories. And if one is trying to write a mystery, this quote is particularly appropriate. How could you make a mystery out of a ringing alarm clock? What if some dastardly villian set all the clocks back so that they could rob a bank?

Today, looking out at the 2-3 feet of snow that has accumulated, everyone is probably thinking “How am I gonna get out of this?” The case of the wintry mix begins. Picture a smoky office in black and white and a grizzled PI sitting behind a desk reading a newspaper while a neon sign blinks through the blinds. Someone in a heavy coat, hat, gloves, scarf (a grizzled New Englander–the kind you see out in every kind of weather) comes through the door. Behind them, snow, rain, and sleet blusters in before the door closes. The PI looks at them inquiringly and the New Englander says, “I’m in a real jam, Sam.”

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