Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Book Reviews: From political histories to bad comics, to bad comics of political histories. And the occasional rant about fiction and writing.

Weblog killed the paperback star

Jerry Stratton, September 26, 2009

I was walking back from the grocery store today along University, and an emergency supervisor vehicle came blaring up one of the side streets; came out to University, and went left out of sight.

I walked another half a block beyond that side street, and suddenly another siren came from down University. An emergency medical van rushed by, going the same direction as the supervisor vehicle.

Another block, and I walked right down another side street. Just as I turned right, I heard sirens again. The same medical van came barreling around the corner, came up the block, and then went past University. Another third of the block and the supervisor vehicle came and did the same thing.

I’m a writer. I’m on the lookout for the weird and unusual. I start filing this away for future use. What happened? It’s unlikely that both drivers accidentally went the wrong way. Most likely there was an address correction.

So who called in the wrong address? Was it a friend or loved one of the person who needed medical attention? What are they going to think if that person dies or is permanently disabled? Was it the dispatcher? How often do dispatchers give out the wrong address? How quickly do they send out a correction? What were the emergency medical technicians thinking when they discovered they were six to ten blocks the wrong way?

“Something bad happened; how do they cope? What were they thinking?” This situation is one of the driving forces of fiction. We see a mysterious event and we project faces onto it.

Then it occurred to me. There must be emergency responder blogs out there. There must be people blogging about these sorts of mistakes. I don’t have to guess. I can mine these blogs for ideas.

Then this brainstorm went one step further: I don’t need to write the book if we no longer have to guess. Or more specifically, while I still need to write the book, no one else needs to read it.

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