After over thirty-five years of writing this and that about Mr. Sherlock Holmes, I find myself having a problem doing what once was the easiest thing of all: Repeat my first steps as a Sherlockian.
And what were those first steps as a Sherlockian, before I ever attended a club meet, before I ever read a newsletter from a fellow Holmes fan, before I even knew I had kindred spirits at all out there?
I did what so many a Sherlock Holmes fan does: I wrote a story about him.
It seemed so easy back then. True, not wanting to set my own style against Watson's, I did pick Holmes up in Sussex, where Watson left him off. And I'm not going to claim the result was a great piece of literature, but it came easily. And it truly must to many who carry a torch for Holmes with a newly lit flame, because so many do that deed.
But when the Bootmakers of Toronto lately came up with a choice little notion for a Sherlock Holmes story contest with a theme of boots of any sort . . . well, suddenly I find that it's not so easy any more.
I've been doing this long enough to know that the key to writing is simply to write, but when it comes to Sherlock? Well, I kind of expect him to be clever and impress me, which is a tricky task when one has to contrive a mystery for him to solve to do it. One has to be villainously clever to come up with a plot that deserves a Holmes solution, and while I'm sure I can write a tale of Holmes going to the tobacco shop to buy some shag, that mystery part is a little intimidating.
Hmm. Perhaps that's the answer to the issue right there: just write a story about Holmes going for a walk to buy some pipe tobacco or something equally mundane and see where it goes from there. After so much Sherlockiana running in one ear and out the other over the past decades, I am probably over-thinking the matter.
In any case, I hope you who are inspired to enter the Bootmakers' contest slip into a productive state quicker than I. Because at this rate, you'll have one less competitor to worry about!