HouseKeeping

Writer’s Block and a Clean Kitchen

Several fellow bloggers of mine are screen writers and authors and post occasionally about suffering from writers block. I could see where this would become frustrating if you needed to write to get paid. I worked for a couple of years as a night auditor in a hotel. The audit took about two hours and the rest of the night I had nothing to do except for listen to Larry King on the radio and watch the dwindling traffic pass by on the freeway. I had a computer, printer and large copier at my disposal so I began to write. I wrote religiously every night for weeks. While editing one night I discovered I had created a transcript of the Larry King radio show, damn it.

I threw away my weeks of work, turned off the radio and started over. As I wrote every night to pass the time I became more involved in my own story line. I was able to go back and develop the characters as I learned who they were in the story. I started to base them on people I had known in my childhood so that I had a clearer definition of them. One night a guest came in about four in the morning, after informing him he would be required to check out at noon he decided to wait till six to check in. The books don’t turn over till then and this would allow him to have the room  until noon the following day. I made coffee while he sat in the lobby and watched the weather channel on the silent t.v. that was never turned off nor had changed channels in the two years I worked there. I went back to my writing.

Needing a fresh cup I stood up to discover the guest at the counter. He had been watching me write while reading over my shoulder for the past several minutes. He introduced himself as Nick and we began to talk. He was a retired cop from West Memphis, Arkansas who had written a book based loosely around a true story of a billionaire and crooked cops that had killed his son. He had an agent who was actually a contract lawyer for some of the Spurs players and hadn’t represented a writer before. Coming back from picking up $2000.00 worth of jacket covers that he had paid for himself he had chosen the hotel I worked at as a change of scenery.  He’d been living in motels since coming to the Austin area to try and sell his book. Staying in hotels and motels had led him to meet and eventually date a gorgeous Indian woman whose family had bought several cheaper motels on the freeway. Nick was well spoken and seemed quite intelligent and was also black, which I only mention because it becomes relative later. A mixed race relationship was normal for Austin but a black man dating an Indian woman was rare.

We soon became friends. Nick and his girl friend would come over to my house for bar-b-ques and beers. He traveled back and forth from West Memphis to San Antonio to meet his agent, to Houston to meet with publishers, back to Austin to spend time with his girl friend. It took two years to finish my book. I looked for agents and publishers, submitted synopsis’s and received rejection letters. I joined the Austin writers guild. I made some three fold brochures about sights and restaurants in the Austin area. Drawing maps and the Austin skyline I discovered clear tape didn’t show up on the copier and I could cut and tape and create a nice master brochure. They sold easily for a dollar each. I gave my publishing company a name and my book never got picked up.

Fast forward fourteen years later. I had moved to Arkansas, laying in bed one night unable to sleep I was channel surfing through the 300 channels on direct t.v. when I passed BET. Being a typical white guy I never watched BET but as I got a couple of channels down I went back. For some reason I recognized the few seconds of dialog I had just heard. I hadn’t thought about Nick in years but I almost immediately knew this movie on BET was his book. Then there he was, playing the lead role, my old friend Nick.

I hadn’t written in years, a dot matrix hard copy and seven floppy disc in a box in the top of the closet are still here. I assume the disc demagnetized years ago. Some how I don’t remember ever deciding to write or when I decided to stop. But somehow it led me here, to a place where I am forced to write, of my own accord. This is where I get to do my mental housekeeping.  If I had a blog, what would I have in it? I still haven’t decided that but when I do, I’ll let you know. I have looked for Nick online, a self promoting writer/actor/director should be easy to find but wasn’t.

Fast forward ten years, stop, back up a couple, there he is or at least his book turned movie, Killing The Badge on IMDb. But nothing else of him since 1999, I wonder if he had a decade and a half long writers block like I did. Mine seems to be over for now, I seem to write when I want and not worry about it when I don’t. Either way it’s nice to get some housekeeping done.

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