Help Wanted: Love Potion # 5
Look who's dropped on by! It's T.J. Alexian, who is one of the working authors interviewed in "Writer with a Day Job."
T.J. (a pen name) works full time in Public Relations and is the author of three novels. He’s the father of three children and directs regional musical theater productions in his free time. At present, he’s working on his next novel, "Pictures of You." He is a frequent contributor to The Write On Project, and you can also find his work on his personal blog at Snapshots From Eldredge.
Help Wanted: Love Potion # 5
Falling in love for the first time’s not so hard, right? Boy meets concept. Boy falls in love with concept. Literary intercourse then ensues: coax out that first draft, follow it up with quite a bit of massage work, keep going at it until you (hopefully) reach a satisfying conclusion. A story is the end result.
Falling in love that first time is easier, I think, than doing so the second, third, or twenty-second time around. There’s a bit more than “rinse lather repeat” built into the whole process, after all.
Last winter, I finished my fourth full-length manuscript. It had been a two-year birthing: from initial brainstorm (“wouldn’t it be interesting if…”) to that first awful first draft, to feedback, to a less-awful second draft, to agent (and other reader) feedback, to where things stand right now. Which is: it’s in the hands of the gods…or, at least, awaiting publisher feedback. If those gods are kind, hopefully I’ll get nice, constructive, encouraging publisher feedback that will result in a book deal. Dare to dream, right?
To clear the palette, at the start of the new year, I decided to take a break from novel writing and threw myself into directing a production of Guys and Dolls at a local college. Forty performers, a 12-piece orchestra. Lighting, sound and costume to piece together. Blocking. Many mini temper tantrums. Many drunken evenings spent partying with the cast. It’s the price one has to pay for one’s art.
Now , here I am, six months later, with that palette clear as spring water and ready to jump back into things, all over again. Time to fall in love for the fifth time. I’ve even got the concept, too. I’ve been eying it from afar for about a year now.
So why do I feel a bit of hesitation? A certain amount of reluctance to do more than simply gaze longingly across the room at this object d’hopefully d’art? Why am I just sitting at the bar, drink in hand? Why don’t I walk up, introduce myself, sit down at that table, whip out my yellow legal pad, and strike up a conversation? What accounts for this strange delay I’m experiencing?
The play has been over for a month now, and I’m no closer now to starting that fifth novel than I was during auditions in February.
I suppose I could rationalize things. It is summer, after all. I do have three kids, including one that’s pregnant and one that’s just learning to drive—and I’m not sure what scares me more, by the way, the thought of being a grandfather or the thought of my 17-year-old behind the wheel. I do have a busy day job, and a road trip to Florida I’ve been planning. And of course, there’s lots of reading material to catch up with, too, after all those months spent directing and partying…volume one of Mark Twain’s autobiography is not going to read itself, after all!
Even so. The concept across the room is mighty tempting. She glances across every so often with a sultry come-hither look, daring me to get to know her better. And I really would like to do more than simply glance longingly back.
I know, I know. My solution is the same as it always is, same as it was for the very first novel, same as it will be for the thirtieth. Sit down, put on paper my thoughts. Start to plot out the story in my head. Work to create the characters, to bring them to life.
But, oh God, falling in love is so difficult sometimes. It’s so much effort. How about if the concept’s not as workable as the others? How about if we’re not a good match? If the coaxing, massaging, hard work comes to naught?
No, no, no. What if-ing like that is pointless, serves no purpose. I know in my heart, it’s time to get off that stool, make those introductions. I just need to take a few minutes to work up my best pick up line, put my feet on the ground, head toward the other side of the room, and…
“So, what’s a nice concept like you doing in a place like this?”
She beckons to me, alluringly. This may be the start of something good.
I’ll let you know how things go.