Saturday, March 26, 2011

Jury Duty - Part Two

On March 18, I had one day of jury duty.  My struggles over editing a long piece I have been working on since January made me remember that day. 

We had to fill out a questionnaire so the lawyers could attempt to size us up before they either held us there or dismissed us.  One of the questions asked about our occupation.  I wrote, "Self-employed writer of fiction and poetry."  I haven't made any money yet, but it is what I do twenty plus hours a week.  I definitely cannot call myself a homemaker (I hate that word) since my house is in a constant state of disarray because I spend all my time writing instead of cleaning. 

The defense lawyer's face lit up when he read my paper.  Oh, you are a writer? he asked.  Let me paint the picture for you before I go on.  This guy seemed absolutely incompetent.  He fumbled with his papers, had very ridiculous poofey hair, talked very slowly with extreme pauses between words, looked like he should have long ago retired, and had up until now tried to beat the answer to the same question out of every person.  The question was something like this:  If you don't believe the stories of any of the witnesses - on both sides - and the state doesn't make it's case, what do you do?  How do you vote? Amazingly, no one gave him a straight answer as if they were trying to mess with him. 

I was possibly the twentieth person he interviewed.  Instead of asking the question, he asked something different.  He paraphrased something Mark Twain once wrote about writing.  I had no idea what he was asking and thought he was trying to trip me up with the Matlock thing he had going on.  It was something about fiction and reality and which was more difficult.  My answer:  I don't understand the question.  I really didn't know what he was getting at.  My neighbor, who was also selected as a juror, tried to clue me in later.  Apparently, he was seriously interested on my views on reality versus fiction and which was more difficult.  He looked very disappointed with my answer. 

Then he asked the question he had asked everyone else.  I knew the answer from the thousands of hours I have dedicated to old episodes of Law and Order.  My answer:  Innocent!  That gave him a big smile, and I was in.  I realize a lot of people try to get out.  I thought it would be interesting.  And they promised it would probably be only one day.

I was happy I pleased him.  He seemed like a very nice grandpa-type person.  As I mentioned in part one, I really do connect with old people.  But after the rambling on about Mark Twain, I was very worried for his client.

The lawyer's words came to me as I tried to finish wrapping up the edits on my first novel that's not kiddie lit.  I am pretty much done except for the last chapter.  The last chapter is very difficult.  I wish I were happy with it, but I'm not.  I love the ending, but not the way I wrote it.  I am tired and just can't do it now.  The last chapter will have to wait until I can give it a lot of time and energy.

Now that I get what the lawyer was trying to ask I have to answer that usually fiction is much easier for me than the realities of life.  I have complete control over what happens in any story I write.  I just can't control whether you will like it - but that's true for reality too.

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