Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Testing the limits

 Well, as if my blogging pace weren't slow enough this year, this month I seem to have replaced writing a frequent blog with a new writing exercise: Sending Paul Thomas Miller a new Yuletide story related to Sherlock Holmes for every day of December preceding Christmas. One only has so much writing time in a day, and this mad gallop into the guns of writer's block is taking up a goodly chuck of it.

And how does one even start to come up with that many premises for short stories?

The whole premise behind Doyle's Rotary Coffin, our loose organization of Sherlock-love, is summed up in the motto "No Holmes Barred!" and since I'm writing these things for its "Ho! Ho! Holmes!" project,  those three words are, in themselves, a guide.

The holiday season is many things to many people. Sherlock Holmes is also many things to many people. Mash those two things up and you get an insane matrix of possibilities. Looking at the combos that I've hit so far, I see:

  • Sherlock as Santa, re-imagining "Charles Augustus Milverton" as a grinch
  • Long haul trucker Sherlock, coming into Nashville for Christmas dinner
  • Watson's connection to the Christmas mentioned in "Speckled Band"
  • Will Ferrell's Sherlock having a visit from Santa
  • A holiday parade on the River Styx ala John Kendrick Bangs' Holmes parody
  • Child Sherlock and Winwood Reade's view of Christmas
  • Grimesby Roylott and Festivus
  • Sherlockian podcasting and Christmas episodes
  • Santa Claus, Queen Victoria, and Mycroft Holmes's true connection
  • Krampus brings Holmes a case
  • Arthur Conan Doyle's version of Frosty the Snowman

Eleven so far, after nine full days of December. Fourteen left to go. If you think that's driven, I should show you how many "Watson's Wonderful World of Wildlife" episodes he's recorded ahead of time. He's about to more than triple that number in the same period of time as I'm doing Christmas tales. Some of us just get an idea in our heads and take off.

As I near the midpoint of my quest, however, I'm starting to feel the limits of Sherlock Holmes and the Yuletide season . . . no, actually, I'm starting to feel my limits. When I don't stop to think about what I've done already and just look to the "Ho! Ho! Holmes!" horizon I actually don't know if I can see a limit. Like I said, the combo just presents a matrix of possibilities, a geometric function of possibilities spinning out possibilities. And once a concept is there, Sherlock Holmes and his friends are such living, breathing creatures that they can take it from there and just do what they do.

I may run out of pseudonyms before I run out of stories, but we shall see. Soon it will be time to take to my keyboard once more and cry, "On Sherlock, on Watson, on Lestrade and Gregson! On Mycroft, on Morstan, on Stonor and Hudson!"

Come, write, join the "Ho! Ho! Holmes!" party! With so many combos out there, I can't possibly be the grinch that steals all the ideas. And what's a party without all the guests we can invite?

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