Trying To Get It Done

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


A writer is having trouble with finishing a story.

Submitted: March 17, 2018

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Submitted: March 17, 2018

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Trying To Get It Done

One of the things that is hard about writing is trying to get the work done. Somebody who doesn't write for a living probably just read that sentence and went 'No kidding'. That is pretty obvious. Creativity is hard for a lot of people. Some people are just not artistic. There was nothing wrong with that. For those that have to be creative, it can be a pain. Especially when there are distractions as you are trying to meet a deadline. 

I was in my apartment in Kentwood. I was trying to finish a story for a magazine in Austin Texas. It was a new magazine that specialized in Literary Fiction. They reached out to me and asked if I was interested in contributing for a couple of issues. Needing the work, I agreed and had sent a few pieces for the first of my two issue deal. I had two pieces done for the next issue. It came down to the last piece. 

I had sent two pieces about a character from my novel "My Chevy, Map and Me". His name was Jim Baldwin. He was an itinerant Cowboy from Wyoming that decided that he wanted an adventure so he sold everything that he had, leaving him with a duffel bag and his pickup and decided to travel America. I had two pieces about random adventures he had when he was in West Virginia and Arizona. The last piece I had started was an adventure he had when he was visiting in his family in Texas. It was a homecoming story that had a fistfight, a wild horse ride through town, reconnecting with a girlfriend and a Rodeo that Jim competed in and won an event. This was almost a novella but I wanted to try and get it published in this magazine. 

Jenny Mintz was in the kitchen, making coffee and listening to music on her phone. Jenny had been my girlfriend for almost a year. She was a teacher over at Ridgeview High. She had been spending the nights more and more over here that I had found her starting to decorate the living room. I hadn't said anything about that cause in hindsight, decorating wasn't something I had given any thought about. I had made my desk and office area how I wanted it. The thought I had was more along the line of 'If you wanna decorate for me, have at it.' Her taste was exquisite. Everything about her was. Her jet black hair, curvy body that had a scent of lavender. She was wearing jeans and a t shirt. I was typing away.

"How is the story coming?" Jenny asked.

"Trying to write for a magazine is a pain in the ass," I said.

"Now come on. Be honest." Jenny said.

"15000 words. That is what that editor wanted. I'm currently at 25000. Trying to trim this down is a pain. Every time I take something out, I add something else and it isn't helping. That is the problem when they give you a limit. It hampers creative flow like you wouldn't believe." I said.

"I am an English Teacher, Nick. I am sure I would believe." Jenny said.

"I know, babe. Forgive a brain dead writer?" I said.

Giving her my best smile, she smirked at me and I went back to work. I usually never have a problem with magazine pieces. To me, they seemed to be the easiest to contribute too. You have a limit and they let you do a lot with your work in that particular confines. Especially the magazines that publish fiction pieces. They really want for you to bring a lot to your work. But this time I was having trouble. I was trying to work my way out of it. I was stuck.

The scene I was stuck on in particular, was one where Jim and his sister Louise meet up with their father. Father Frank was an ex convict who was now the bartender at some local dive bar. Jim was a world champion cowboy who learned his skills from his uncle Charlie, a champion himself. Charlie was the one who really raised Jim and Louise. Their mother Claudia was an alcoholic who drifted in and out of their lives with false promises of grandeur and a new life. Charlie raised them on his ranch as if they were his own kids. A loving and kind heart of a man. Louise was a successful business woman in town, running a clothing store. There was a closeness between Jim and Louise and I wanted to bring that out in a confrontation scene with their father Earl.

Jim had just been involved in a fistfight with a couple of cowboys in a bar in town. The end of the story involved the rodeo that Jim was gonna compete in. He had reunited with an old girlfriend Cheryl. The confrontation with the father was gonna lead to what I considered the best part of the story, Jim trying to ride a wild mustang through the small Texas town. I just was trying to build to it.

I turned from my computer to see Jenny in the kitchen making something.

"What you doing, Jenny?" I asked.

Jenny looked up at me. 

"I'm trying to figure out a recipe. I may have to go to the store. Trying to see what we have." Jenny said.

"What is the recipe?" I asked. I suddenly felt hungry.

"Jambalaya and Pasta." Jenny said.

"Oh man, that sounds great." I said.

"I know. I want my writer to have a full tummy so he can get his work done." Jenny said.

I got up from my chair and headed to the kitchen. I walked up and kissed her on the lips. Tasting the strawberry was a much needed boost. We wrapped arms around each other. After we pulled away, Jenny raised an eyebrow at me.

"What was that for?" Jenny asked.

"Have I told you lately that I love you?" I asked.

"Your just hungry," Jenny said.

I nodded my head in agreement.

"I need your wallet," Jenny said.

I raised an eyebrow and handed it to her. She opened it and took $100 out of it. Jenny kissed me and headed out the door. Normally I would have said something about losing that much money out of my wallet. However I figured that if it was going to feed me, that would be OK.

After Jenny left, I went back to the computer to work on the dilemma that was my scene. There was just something that wasn't working. No matter what I did. I made it funny, didn't work. Sad and heartbreaking, not happening. Full of anger and rage, just made me angry and raging mad. Nothing worked. 

I walked over to the CD player and turned on some music. Some Paul McCartney. More like McCartney and Wings. I headed over to the couch and laid down while "Silly Love Songs" was playing. After a couple of minutes, I heard a knock at the door. I shook my head and closed my eyes again. The door knocked again. I got up and headed for the door. Before I got to the door, it opened. Noticing who was there, I shook my head and headed back to the couch. 

Lucas Coleman was my closest friend in the whole world. He used to be a local DJ on the radio here in Ridgeview. After he left the station, he joined my friend Harlan Sinclair and I in our online podcast production company. Lucas did a show once a week where he highlighted some of his favorite music and told the stories behind the songs and albums. It was a great show. Harlan and I did a show too, but Lucas was the more popular one and the one we were wanting to highlight more. Our company was expanding but I was reducing my role in it. I was more into writing stories and reporting. More than I had ever been in my entire career.

Lucas was with Casey Freeman. Casey was a very popular comedian in the area. He and his partner and another close friend Jake Portman were a very successful duo. Casey was a doppleganger for Robin Williams but with the fashion sense of a 1990's Jerry Seinfeld. Lucas was wearing khakis and a t shirt with a picture of Johnny Cash on it. They were both holding vinyl albums in their hands.

"What are we going to listen to?" I asked.

"Well, it goes like this," Lucas said. "I have an amazing classic album by Bruce Springsteen. 'Tunnel of Love'. Casey has '52nd Street' by Billy Joel. Which is your pick, Nicholas. I know it but would love for you to say it out loud and proud."

"Nick, don't listen to this pompous dummy. You and I both know that Billy Joel is the way to go. Come on buddy." Casey said.

"Guys I would love to discuss this further. However, I need to get back to work. I have a deadline." I said.

"What are we working on?" Casey asked.

"It is a story for a magazine in Austin Texas. They wanted some fiction pieces. I am trying to finish this one. I'm stuck and can't figure it out." I said.

"Well what is your scene?" Lucas asked.

"My main character and his sister run into their alcoholic father. He was an ex convict who now runs a bar in this Texas town. They hadn't seen their father in 25 years. My hero is a champion cowboy and his sister is a successful business woman. They have just walked into the bar and the sister heads to the bathroom. My guy sees his father." I said.

"What happens next?" Casey asked.

"That is what we are trying to help with," Lucas said.

"Your going to help me? I did not know this." I said. 

"Of course we are. We just need to know what we are going to work with. Isn't that what all the big shot writers say?" Casey asked.

I shook my head.

"Please stop." I said.

"What's the matter, you afraid we might be able to help and make your precious story better than what you might make it?" Lucas asked.

I got up from my chair and headed to the kitchen. I opened the fridge and grabbed a couple of drinks. I handed them to Casey and Lucas and sat back down. As they were opening their drinks, I grabbed a pen and started to scribble some stuff down on a piece of paper.

"Guys, I mean it. This is important to me. If you are serious about helping me, I'll take it. But if you guys are gonna mess around, your gonna need to leave." I said.

"Now now, no need to make threats." Casey said.

"We will be good," Lucas said.

"OK." I said.

I described the scene to them. How I had it planned in my mind was as followed:

'Jim and Louise headed into a bar called 'Lucky Luke's'. Louise was wearing a very nice dress, floral print. She had her hair down, auburn red. Jim was wearing starched Wrangler jeans and a black button up shirt with a white hat. Jim had his arm around Louise and they had a nice conversation about their visit together. They go into the bar for a drink and a bite to eat. They find a table in the middle of the bar. Louise pulls out her cellphone and Jim rolls up his sleeves. As he is taking is hat off, he looks up towards the bar and he sees his father Frank. Frank is in his mid 60's, slight paunch and face resembling a bulldog. His face looks more than ten years older than his actual age. He is behind the bar serving drinks to a couple of other people. Jim's jaw drops and he motions for Louise to look over. She lets out an audible gasp.'

After I was done describing it, I could tell that the guys were really bored.

"Come on guys, you said you wanted to help." I said.

"That is pretty tough," Lucas said. "I'd take Jim up there and order a drink. Wait to see if he recognizes Jim and then Jim launches into a confrontation of sorts."

"OK, I like that. It could be a very verbal confrontation. Jim and his father having it out. What does Louise do?" I said.

"Dude, it is pretty obvious. Louise doesn't do anything. She sits there in her chair and minds her business and let the men argue it out. You know why? Because it is Texas and they do not appreciate women getting out of line." Casey said.

"Lucas, throw him out of here. He is just as bad as Jake." I said.

Lucas got up from the chair and headed towards Casey.

"You heard the man. Get out." Lucas said.

"I can't," Casey said. "Your my ride."

"He's got me there," Lucas said.

"Damn you for being considerate and kind." I said.

"We will browse your record collection while you work. Maybe music will help you." Lucas said.

They both headed towards the living room. I was pondering what Lucas said. I thought that the scene he painted worked. If Frank didn't recognize Jim, it could be nice to build a little suspense to the big reveal. I typed up a scene a long the lines that Lucas had described. I did it. I found my scene. I was on a roll now. It was a great scene starter. A simple order of a couple drinks leads to a confrontation of father and son. Also it was symbolic of sorts. Alcohol tore the family apart, alcohol brings the tension to a head. It made for a tense and verbally brutal confrontation. I got up from the table and headed over to Lucas and gave him a big hug.

"Thank you," I said. "I just finished the story."

As I was hugging Lucas and he was trying to get me off of him, Jenny walked in with the groceries. She was shaking her head.

"When I thought you were looking to get creative, this was not what I had in mind." Jenny said.

I got off of Lucas and gave a Jenny a huge hug and a kiss. It was always exciting for a writer to finish a story. The palpable relief one felt was on a level that no words could describe accurately. 

As Jenny was putting the groceries away, Lucas and Casey were helping her set the table for dinner. What was I doing? Well it should have been obvious. Like any good writer, I sat down and started the next story. One down and another to go. It needed to get done. No matter what was going on. That was it.

t Done

 


© Copyright 2018 Robert Logan. All rights reserved.

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