There was this cop and his name was Joe. He was a good guy and he did his job well. Like many cops, he had his law enforcement idols. Dirty Harry was one because he was tough and didn’t take shit from anyone. Then there was Columbo because he was smart and no one could hoodwink him.
One day Joe was told that he would be in command of a whole damned planet. They didn’t inform him that he would be the only cop on the planet or, in fact, the only person. When he arrived he discovered a pristine wilderness. There was little to do, but Joe still had to write his reports.
There was an ocean on this planet and in it there were these creatures that looked like big salamander only a hell of a lot smarter. Once they sent a message to Earth and this is what they said: “Hey, assholes, keep off our turf!” They also said they liked Hollywood gangster movies and cocaine. This is why Joe was sent.
Joe was issued an underwater camera and he spent much of his days in the sunshine on the beach with the camera’s telescopic arm extended beneath the waves, observing. The salamander guys were bad: They often fought and sometimes even ate one another. Joe couldn’t go into the water to arrest any of them (for one thing he was a poor swimmer), nor did he have a prison to put them in. But he was authorised to shoot any offenders if the need arose. The salamander guys never left the water so the need never did arise.
Eventually Joe became fed-up with watching the salamander guys. He knew their sordid routine and figured he’d just make up reports about them (he wrote they used souped-up underwater cars for drive-by shootings) while he explored the planet. He wandered through towering forests that were dark and tranquil beneath their high canopies. He trekked expansive grasslands that were waist-high and rippled in the breeze like a golden ocean. Eventually he came to a desert and he tried to cross it. Several days out, low on water, in the blistering heat, beneath the relentless sun, feeling frazzled, Joe realised his job was futile, that even traffic duty would have been better than this, that he deserved better. So he applied for a transfer.
When Joe’s transfer came through and he got back to his usual city beat and the familiar gritty urban crimes, he felt far happier. Later it came out that the message from the salamander creatures was fake anyway; they weren’t so smart; some tech-punk was having fun at everyone’s expense. Joe’s bogus reports, to this day, remain a matter of national security.
How do you warm-up for writing? Or do you just slip straight into it? Have you ever had a dead-end job like Joe’s?