Monday, July 20, 2015

The Day Agatha Christie Went Crazy, Maybe

I don’t know if my blog posts have accurately echoed my dismay, but lately I’ve been feeling a little bit like I want to run around outside screaming, or maybe take a trip to London to stand in that famous park and rant all day long. In some ways, I can understand the people who walk around putting up signs that warn about the upcoming end of the world. In short, I’ve been climbing walls and freaking out. And as long as I don’t do any of those weird things, I guess that’s okay...because Agatha Christie went a little crazy once, too. Well, maybe.


Her Greatest Mystery

For 11 days, the famous Queen of mystery novels went missing. Vanished. The year was 1926, the whole event was totally bizarre, and people have been trying to unravel this lingering mystery in all the decades since. 




Agatha Christie was pretty much already a household name on December 3, 1926. She had published 6 novels, and the latest was selling out quickly. When the time struck 9:45 in the evening, Agatha Christie got in her car and drove away. The car, a Morris Cowley, was found abandoned later. There was no sign of the mystery author. Agatha Christie was gone.

Did she drown in the nearby Silent Pool? The natural spring had previously claimed one life. Was she merely trying to sell more books with a weird publicity stunt? Or had she, in fact, been a victim of murder? All knew that her WWI hero husband, Archie, was a philanderer.

Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was even involved in the investigation. He took one of the author's gloves to a medium. Author Dorothy Sayers went to the site where the car was found to look for clues.

The famed mystery writer was located at last, at a fancy hotel in Harrogate. She was staying there under a false name, the name of her husband's mistress. She said she had no memory of the events that led to her disappearance, or the days thereafter.

She never spoke about her disappearance, leaving everyone else to speculate about it for many years after her death. There are all sorts of theories about it, but maybe it’s not as complicated as one of Christie’s well-plotted novels. Maybe there’s a simple answer: she went a little crazy.

If you haven’t gone a little crazy from time to time, you may not really be a writer. Words don’t behave themselves the way they should, readers don’t respond the way we expect, things always end up different in the final draft than the way you imagined them being when you were still on the first page. In short, it’s all quite maddening.

And isn’t it tempting to run away from all of that and go to a luxury hotel? I’d do it right now if I didn’t have a blog to finish. So maybe Agatha Christie went a little crazy one day, and ran away from her big name because it got to be a little too heavy to carry. Sometimes, you’ve got to run away from the words to get a little breathing room. Most of us can’t go to a luxury spa hotel...but we can turn off the laptop, stop thinking about plot points and assume a new name for a little while.

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