Monday, May 6, 2013

The Cure for Writer's Block

He was working on a deadline and thoughts of her kept creeping into his brain.  Why did that keep happening?  Never before did he have a problem with wiping his mind clear of anyone or anything while he was working.  She was attractive, not drop dead gorgeous.  She had a good figure, not a great one.  She was smart, not brilliant. So what was it?  He couldn’t put his finger on it but he couldn’t get her out of his mind.

He had purchased a table of ten to one of his sister’s charity events.  He told her to use the tickets for her friends but she wanted him to attend because he could afford to participate in the silent auction which raised more money.  Magda always managed to get what she wanted out of him.  She was his little sister and he had always looked out for her.  So there he was at a charity event all duded up in a tux and feeling uncomfortable as hell when she walked into his life and now invaded every moment of it.  Alexis Markinson was a friend of a friend of Magda’s .  When he was introduced, he extended his hand and when she put her hand in his, it was as if she had one of those kid’s buzzers in her hand.  He was electrified.  She looked straight at him as if she was looking into his soul. She had a serenity about her that immediately mesmerized him.  He spent the rest of the evening trying to win her attention.

Alexis was the middle child in a family of six siblings.  In addition, to the eight of them, her aging Aunt Dee and Uncle Jim also lived with them.  Her serenity came from the ability to shut out the surrounding noise. She was a librarian and that too was a result of her raucous upbringing.  Books allowed her to get lost for hours and shut herself off from the rest of the world. This behavior is what gave her that ethereal quality that was so often mistaken for haughtiness.  When the surroundings got too loud she would mentally retreat and become oblivious to the cacophony around her. That’s where she was when Skip was speaking to her.

For the third time he asked her if she wanted something to drink.  When she didn’t respond he touched her hand and she jumped.

“I’m sorry I startled you.   I’m going to the bar and wondered if you would like something to drink? He inquired.

She apologized too and said something about being lost in her own head and told him she would love a glass of Pinot Grigio if it was available and if not, she was happy with just her water with lemon.

When he returned with the drinks he handed her the glass of wine.  She thanked him. Trying to keep the conversation going he spoke of understanding about being lost in your own thoughts.  He explained that as a writer he had always had the ability to shut off the rest of the world and just concentrate on his writing.  Deadlines made it a necessity.

That was the breakthrough. She was attentive during the rest of the event. When the evening was over he asked if he could see her again.  Instead of giving him her phone number she told him if he was interested he could come by the library and they could go for lunch. He was completely surprised by her answer. He wasn’t conceited but this was such a change for Skip.  He was always getting telephone numbers pushed in his hand, slipped in his pocket, emails to the paper, etc. whether he wanted them or not.  In most cases, they went into his circular file. Her approach made her seem so much more interesting.

Richard (Skip) Everly was a good looking guy.  He had played football in high school and college and lived a healthy lifestyle.  Although he was pushing 40 he still looked like he did the day he graduated from college.  He was just a tad over six feet tall, with blond hair and blue eyes.  He had a perpetual tan which was not chemically enhanced but gained by his habit of running on the beach several days a week. Although he had the California surfer boy look about him, he was a successful journalist and author and lived a relatively quiet life. His work provided excitement enough for him.

So, here he was, sitting at his computer trying to make his brain function and meet his deadline and Alexis Markinson was all that was on his mind.  He finally decided the hell with it and turned off the computer.  He went out, got in the car and went for a drive. He didn’t have a destination in mind, just wanted to clear his head, but found himself in front of the library.  He shook his head. When entering the main door, he saw her standing off to the side talking to a group of people.  He watched and once again wondered why he was so captivated by her.  She just started to move off when she spotted him and came over.

“Hi, I’m happy to see you.  Are you here for the facilities or me? She pointedly asked.

Skip was not used to such directness and was taken aback for a minute.  When he answered he was completely honest.

“My car just ended up here, I haven’t been able to get you out of my mind, so yes, I’m here for you.” He responded. 

“Such honesty, I like that” she responded.

“I know it’s too late for lunch, but would you consider having dinner with me?” he asked.

“I would like that, I should be able to get out of here by six.  How about it I meet you at Michael’s.?  Do you know it?

He told her he knew the place and would meet her there. 

“I’ll be the one with the anxious look on my face”.  She laughed and turned back to go to her office.

He got to Michael’s and was seated at a quiet booth toward the back.  He ordered a draft and a glass of Pinot Grigio. When she came in a few minutes later she remarked that she was impressed with his memory.

“After all, you do remember I am a journalist and it’s our job to get the facts quickly and commit them to memory until we can jot them down and pass them on.” he said.

“Speaking of that, I looked you up to see what you’ve written and other than your columns, I couldn’t find anything.  Didn’t you tell me you were an author as well as a journalist?”

“I did and I am” he admitted.

He explained when he was in college his first stint was as a “ghost writer” for a famous author.  He entered a contest to submit a story and won.  The prize being a chance to write a story for a famous author; said author would provide the idea and the basic storyline and it was up to the prize winner to complete the story.  The work had been accepted and after that he wrote a couple of additional stories for this particular author. 

“Who is the author, I may have read your work? She asked.

“I can’t do that, I signed a non disclosure notice and must abide by that agreement”.  I’m sure you understand”.

“Oh, I do.  Have you written anything lately?

“I’m working on a book now. I’m under a deadline but it has been slow going the last couple of days; I can’t seem to get you out of my mind”.

She blushed.  “I don’t think I’ve ever had that effect on anyone before.  I’m flattered. So tell me about the book you’re working on and maybe I can help”.

He explained he wrote under a pseudonym and if he told her the name he was sure she would recognize it, maybe not believe it, but he was sure it would be recognizable.

“Now you really have me curious, c’mon spill the beans.” She said.

He laughed and threw out a name. 

“You have to be kidding me.  YOU.  That’s not possible” she said.

He laughed. “ It’s very possible just not very believable.  It’s not something I share with just anyone.  It’s the reason I never do interviews and obviously the picture is photo shopped and the bio is fiction”.

“I’m speechless. How did this happen?”

He explained he wrote the first one as a lark and submitted it to a publisher under his own name.  He was rejected.  He asked his author friend to review and offer an opinion.  The author told him to resubmit it to another house under a woman’s name and see if he got a different response. Sure enough, it was accepted and since then Mary Anne Harper had written many novels.

“I would have never guessed that someone as masculine as you could write those steamy love scenarios that got many a woman through the droughts in their love life.” She said.  “How do you do it?”

He told her he had sisters and a mother and spent time listening to their wants and desires.  From there it was easy to weave a tale.  That’s why he couldn’t understand why he was having such a difficult time now.

“What have you done to me Ms. Markinson”?

She blushed again.  She looked so darn cute when she did that.  He had seen her serenity shatter just a bit when he told her about Mary Anne Harper, but it was back now. Suddenly, the light bulb went on. He knew what it was.  She was the first lady he met, other than his sisters, that had the qualities he admired and written into his heroines.

After that dinner date, he was able to go home and complete the chapter that had been giving him fits.  He began picturing his current heroine as Alexis and the words began flowing as he scripted the thoughts and desires he had for her.  Whenever he reached a rough spot he would think of her and wonder how she would react.

When he reached a particularly thorny point in the latest novel he called and asked how she would handle the situation if she were “Victoria Alvaro” the heroine in the novel. He gave her a quick synopsis

When Victoria’s husband was killed by renegades she took over the reins of running their vineyard.  Most men didn’t like taking orders from a woman so she hired Miguel Cadiz, as an overseer, to assist her even though she had always worked side by side by with her late husband and knew as much as he did. Lately Miguel had become more than an overseer. He was a dominant man and Victoria had several bouts with him regarding the running of the vineyard. On this particular day she very adamantly disagreed with and contradicted one of his decisions in front of the workers.  He was very angry and although he kept his rage under wraps at the time, he whispered in her ear that he would deal with her later.

What Skip wanted to know was how he should write Miguel dealing with Victoria.  She thought about it for a minute and told him that considering the time period and the dominance of Miguel, she felt that he would probably put her over his knee and spank  her for overruling his decision and undermining his authority in front of the workers.

“Okay, so if I use that you, as Victoria, would be okay with being spanked” he inquired.

“I would be okay with being spanked as Victoria or Alexis” she responded.

He was silent for a moment and then told her that was good to know and he would stow the knowledge away in case it was ever needed again for his heroine, either real or imagined.

She could feel the smirk he was wearing through the phone line.

Hope you enjoyed.  See you later for more Aimless Ramblings.