Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Guest Post by Bill Hopkins - The Author of The Judge Rosswell Carew Mystery Series

I killed a tick on the plane because I'm a writer.
After I killed the tick, I realized that I'd devised one method for blasting apart a writer's block.
But first, the grisly part.
I recently flew on a commercial flight to New Orleans. After takeoff, with the seat belt sign still lit, I felt a tick crawling on my neck. I grabbed the critter between a thumb and forefinger to prevent its escape. I had no way to kill the brute.
Ticks are arachnids, meaning they're spiders. Who bite humans. And suck our blood. And transmit diseases. Ticks serve no useful purpose on earth. I am proud of my loathing for these disgusting tiny monsters.
But how could I kill it? I could've mashed against the tray table in the upright position. What if I slipped and dropped the tick? It might crawl on me again and wind up in a place that I couldn't reach while strapped in. Even if I successfully mashed the thing on the table, my seat mate may not have appreciated the nasty thing decorating our space.
The TSA goons won't allow nail clippers or pocketknives on planes. I'd left my miniature yet deadly Swiss Army knife at home. Lighters may not be verboten but you can't use on inside the cabin of a plane. My fellow passengers would've probably thrown a blanket over me and sat on me until the plane landed if I'd flicked my Bic to singe the tick.
A Bic? A thought formed.
After thinking about my dilemma for a few minutes, I realized the answer was in my pocket. I'm a writer. I carry a notebook and pen (blue ink, of course). That provided me with a perfect weapon. The tick expired at the point of a ballpoint pen. I have the bloody corpse in my notebook to prove it.
If you are stuck anywhere in your work in progress, stop and look around. What tools do you have right in front of you? Are you defining your problem by the tools you have? That's not good.
Abraham Kaplan, in The Conduct of Inquiry: Methodology for Behavioral Science, said, "I call it the law of the instrument, and it may be formulated as follows: Give a small boy a hammer, and he will find that everything he encounters needs pounding."
The end of a ballpoint pen makes a great device not only for writing but also for killing ticks. What are you overlooking in the world you've created? What items in your work can be used for something they weren't created for?
I call it the law of the flip-flop, and it may be formulated as follows: Give a writer a tool for creation and the writer will find destructive uses for it.
Go forth and wreak some havoc.

Bill Hopkins
The Judge Rosswell Carew Mystery series
Bill's Website  -


  1. Thanks, Bryan! I appreciate you having me today.

    1. You're welcome Bill. It's always a pleasure to have you on The Writers Cabin.

  2. Aha! I don't think think it's the tools you have available, but rather the release of pentup frustration in the unique use of those tools. ;-)

    I recently returned from a trip to NYC. I was sitting on the bench in our bedroom and looked up to see a spider, as big as a dog, sitting just inside the entrance to the room. He was looking proud and smug. I thought about running down two flights of stairs to grab the can of Kills On Contact, but decided the old shoe smash move would work just as well, and require less energy on my part.

    Havoc was wreaked.

    Cute post, Bill. Thanks!

  3. Argh... I'm going to have the willies every time I fly now.

  4. Great post, Bill.

    As a mystery writer, you don't want to know all the things I can do with a pen. I can take and life and save a life with my lowly Bic. I can grow my herbs and write my recipe.

    And don't even get my started on the things I can use in my purse for weapons. On the other hand, if I'd have found a tick on my neck on that plane, they'd had had to land to get rid of the loud, hysterical, crazy woman.

    Pat Marinelli

  5. You obviously are the "Deadly" in the Deadly Duo, Dude!