I must say that when I decided to try to write anything, it was always hard. No one told me about “genre rules” and while fiction was my interest, I had no real life drama experiences to really draw from. This gets into the past arguments about writing from the autobiographical experiences versus writing “outside of one’s self” and those pros and cons. There were always story ideas. These were things that happened to people around the town that were interesting, tragic, twisted, or hilarious. People have life’s problems to deal with. Fictionalizing these ideas never produced more than a short story length piece.
It’s embarrassing now, thinking of the things I wrote in that never published novel called World War IV. It was a “post-apocalyptic” story and part of the last half was like the movie Red Dawn starring Powers Booth. In fact I had sent it to a Los Angeles agency that accepted novel submissions for story treatments. Of course they sent a glowing pitch of their own, and wanted hundreds of dollars to include it in their publishing that gets pitched to producers. I did not follow through with that, but later, I wondered if I wasn’t ripped off.
After that, I changed jobs, became buried in work problems, wrote two articles for a science teacher journal. For five years, amid domestic fun and some travel, I tabled most attempts at writing anything. Then I started two things. One was writing a series of short stories, and submitting to regional journals along the west coast. I began work on a nebulous outline for a novel about World War II. That novel idea languished as more work problems arose for another five years.
Then two things happened. The first I was sitting in a boring staff meeting. A huge document was being created for the institution’s certified accreditation. The staff had contributed to that and sections of it were being distributed for us to edit. I sat there musing, that it would be nicer to be editing my own manuscript instead of that, that thing before us. My exact thought was, “How hard could it be, to knock out something that long, and edit it?”
The second event was when my brother-in-law came for a visit. The wives wanted us to buy several jars of a special barbecue sauce that was made by a local guy. It was only sold at a few of the local bars in our rural area. The four of us went on a pub crawl, in search of the sauce.
“Mike’s” was a place owned by a friend of my brother-in-law’s. It was described as a biker bar, and had a killing in the front of it once, during a “rumble” between two bike clubs. As we sat in there and sipped our drinks, the paraphernalia hanging and stashed all over, had dust from the gold rush era weighing on the cobwebs. I covered my glass of whiskey as my wife eyed a pair of some woman’s dusty panties hanging on a wire over her head.
Through the open door, there was the chugging sound of pipes of a Harley arriving. It accelerated once and then was shut down. Mike was cordial with us as another fellow came in, shook hands with Mike and ordered a beer. Mike had not seen him in a while and asked the fellow what he’d been doing. As he explained to Mike, he had moved to a town forty-five miles to the south, and was busy doing the first rewrite of his novel.
I listened to the conversation and do not remember much about it. But my exact thought was, “If the biker can get it written, I should be able to write a novel and be rewriting it too.”
We rolled out of there in a heap and had four, one quart jars of barbecue sauce.
~~Timothy J. Desmond
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