Alas, I’m going to be touching on an old idea, and doing it with an old story. But it’s all kind of relevant…
So… true story time.
As many of you know, I worked in the film industry for many years as a prop master. What some of you may not know is that about… wow, seventeen years ago I was working on an alien invasion film and messed up my knee. Ruined it, really. I was running up a staircase with a case of props for the alien autopsy scene and turned too fast on a stairwell landing. Well, I turned. My knee twisted. It actually made a bubble-wrap noise.
I spent about an hour that night in a quiet part of the set crying into my arm because the pain was so bad.
After that, I spent two and a half months walking with a cane and dry-swallowing painkillers before I got in to have my meniscus rebuilt.
On my 30th birthday.
No, seriously. Think of all the many things you could do/did on your 30th birthday. Not for me. No booze, no party, no sex, no presents. I had a friend who drove me home from the outpatient clinic and dumped me on the floor of my apartment. And then three months of rehab after that.
I finally got back to full mobility, got back to work, and guess what happened? Less than five months later, I damaged the other knee on a straight-to-DVD movie. This time it was three months of waiting for workman’s comp to schedule surgery.
At least the cane was broken in by this point.
After almost a year and a half of sitting around doing nothing… I’d put on some weight. And when I say “some” I mean it in the same way some folks say “yeah, Jeb Bush could’ve done better in those early primaries.” To be blunt, I’d packed on almost fifty extra pounds. And I am not a tall guy, so fifty pounds really shows on me.
Fortunately, an actor I was working with knew I was trying to trim some fat and shared a few tips. He also had a great personal trainer. Jerzy—said trainer—showed me a few exercises, offered some diet tips, but for most of those first two hours we just talked. And one thing became very clear.
There would be no hand-holding, no prodding. Jerzy wasn’t a “shout at you to do crunches” kind of trainer. I would get the instruction book, the rules, and then I’d be left on my own for a month. This was all my responsibility. After all, if I was going to lose this weight, the only person that could really make it happen was me. Jerzy gave me his home phone number, his cell, and his email. “But,” he said with a shrug, “if you really need me to tell you ‘don’t eat the chocolate cake’… you can’t be that serious about losing the weight.”
See where I’m going with this?
With the Writer’s Coffeehouse, this ranty blog, random messages on Twitter or Facebook, I’d guess every three or four weeks I get asked something along the lines of “how do you do it?” How I manage to sit down every day and pound out a few thousand words? How do I exercise the self control to plant myself in front of my desk and write?
The answer’s simple. There’s no trick to sitting down and writing. None at all.
You just do it.
Y’see, Timmy, if I’m serious about this, I shouldn’t need to find some clever reason or inspiration to get myself in the chair every day. I should want to be there. The real problem should be getting me out of the chair.
Which brings me back to Jerzey. I lost sixty pounds in fourteen months working with him. And in about two weeks I’ll be starting my tenth novel. That’s tenth published novel, to be clear. Published by someone else. Who gave me money for the right to publish my work.
I’m not saying that to brag or to disparage anyone else. I’m saying to make the point that one of the main reasons it happened is because I sit my butt in a chair and write. Every day.
And nobody needs to tell me to do it.
Oh, while I’m thinking of it, this Sunday is the Los Angeles Writers Coffeehouse! Noon to three at Dark Delicacies in Burbank. We’re going to talk about mysteries and twists and reveals. It’ll be fantastic, it’s free, and all you have to do is show up.
Next time—and next time will be very soon, I promise—I think we need to talk about what’s at stake.
Until then… go write.