The Fiction of Owen Thomas

Dear Miss Tinkles

Dear Miss Tinkles

Yours In Letters

Dear Miss Tinkles:

I am so depressed. When I was younger I felt like my future was an endless path unwinding before me, so many steps to the horizon I couldn’t count them. Now, increasingly, I can count them. On one hand. I get up in the morning and I am nearly crushed by the realization that my days are numbered and dwindling fast. I’m looking for hope anywhere I can find it that the end is not already upon me. Please, Miss Tinkles, tell me it is not over so soon.

Sincerely, Yours In Letters.


Dear Sue Grafton:

There are a couple of points to be made here. First of all, you have really painted yourself into a corner, haven’t you? From the moment you settled on A is for Alibi, you should have known that you were only twenty-six steps from the end of your writing career. I’m a little surprised that even at your most naively optimistic, you could not count to twenty-six. You should have thought this through a little more carefully.

It never had to be this way. You might have taken the time to consider other languages. Like Chinese, for instance. Did you know there are thousands of individual Chinese characters? You could have had four thousand titles on the New York Times best sellers list, starting with “蝴 is for 蝴蝶蝴 蝶蝴蝶 蝴蝶.” But no. You had to start with the letter A.  Not to take away from your success. You’ve had a nice run. But with the release of W is for Wasted, you are now only three steps away from a cold, untitled oblivion. 

And that brings me to my second point, which is that I was just pulling your leg about the first point. The only thing limiting your future as a writer is your conception of that future. You have fallen into the trap of the self-limiting proposition. With a little imagination I think you will see that you can go back to the beginning and just start doubling up on those letters. AA is for Alcoholics Anonymous. And then tripling up: AAA is for American Automotive Association. BBB is for Better Business Bureau. And so on. Not as sexy as R is for Ricochet, but functional.

Or you could think about randomizing the letters: WTF is for Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Where’s That Finger-puppet?  Or Writing’s Too Frustrating! There’s no end to the titles you can create. Although, I will concede that coming up with a murder mystery for WFT is for Where’s That Finger-Puppet? will be tricky.

So who says you have to limit yourself to the alphabet?  You’re a writer; be creative! What about using conjunctions? And is for And There’s Another Dead Body!  Or, Yet is for Yet Another Murder. Or, So is for So Who’s Gonna Die Now?

Have you considered organizing the balance of your career around adverbs? Slowly is for The Time It Took Him to Die. Or, Loudly is for How She Screamed.

Or what about colors? Blue is for Asphyxiation. Black is for Gangrene. Gunpowder is for Gunpowder. Or anagrams? Below is for Bowel. And Earth Infraction is for Heart Infarction! Now who’s not going to snap that one off the shelf?

So take earth, Ms. Grafton. You’re a long, long way from that cold, untitled oblivion. G is for Go Get ‘Em and Good Luck!

Yours, Tink.


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