Diarrhea of the Mouth

In addition to having many, many stories and plot lines occupying my brain — sometimes to the point of blissful distraction — there are thousands of words up there, too, bouncing around and trying to eascape.

Some might posit this panoply is an invaluable tool for someone who gets up in the small hours to situate herself in front of a screen — to write. I suppose it is.

Except . . .

It’s less so when I am asked, “So, what’s your book about?”

Problem #1)

First, I must ask which book. I try to do this with unassuming humility. Inevitably, I end up trying to sum up all six, as quickly as possible, with the sense that a sword dangles from a string over my head or that a the countdown on a bomb is getting to 0:00:00.


Because of all those words in my head.

And because of my perennial diarrhea of the mouth. (How’s that for a visual?)

To further compound the issue:

Problem #2)

I’m supposed to be able to sum up, in five to seven sentences, the major plot line and major characters of each story in a my “pitch” to a literary agent.


For FLEET FILES, I reduced 98,980 words to fewer than 200 — 187 to be exact. And I know I missed a lot.

For those who don’t write and are trying to find an analogy, here’s one:

Think about sitting down with a college admissions board as the only source of information on your child. You are tasked with encapsulating all which has happened for your child in his/her entire life AND you must provide a basis for how your child stands apart from every other applicant AND you need to advocate for why granting admission to your child is salient and worthwhile.



Oh, and you have five minutes. But four would be better.

I’m going to bet that you, too, might find yourself struck with a sudden case of mouth diarrhea, for which there is no real cure.

Except for maybe swallowing your words.

But that’s pretty unpalatable, both literally and figuratively, wouldn’t you say?

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