The Life of a Writer

black coffee and a book

The life of a writer is all about the glitz and glamour of the ‘life.’  We all have limos take us to our book signings just as you would imagine.  We all have private jets to take us to Cabo or Bermuda at a whim. Paris and London are just waiting for us to find out about our next book, with bated breath. Paparazzi are clamoring about our personal lives, with photographers waiting to take photos of us at lunch or dinner with the great directors, seasoned actors or Hollywood producers.  My wait staff does my laundry and takes care of my mansion. I don’t spend much time there, I’m always on the go. You would wonder how I have time to write all my books, I’m releasing twelve this year. It a tough life, but someone has to do it. I too was once a simple dime store self-published novelist, only years ago…

5:20 AM. I was laying in bed for two hours after waking from a dream about a kid telling jokes. I tossed and turned until I had to get up for my job, system engineering at a hospital.  I start at 7, but by the time I shower, shave, dress, feed the cat and kiss my girlfriend, I’m on the road at 6:15.

6:30 AM I’m standing in line in the cafeteria, at the hospital. My eyes still haven’t adjusted to the neon lights above and I’ve asked, “The usual.” Yes, I respond and head for coffee. Just the smell has started to wake my brain cells, but the time I return to the line I’ve had several sips and the partial hangover from last nights time “out with the boys” is slipping away. Amen.  I get my western omelet and English muffin (the same thing I’ve eaten for breakfast for the last 13 years here) gets covered in garlic powder and oregano before I pay.  I cover the top with ketchup in a smiley face. The two halves of the English muffin become the eyes.

6:45 AM I’m at my desk stuffing my face and drinking coffee like there is no tomorrow. I’m reading through my Facebook page for things I can post to Online Community Writers and Mifflin Writers Group. Hey, were all writers and we all deserve the chance to succeed. And when I’m famous and rich, I’ll still give back.  I check my email, delete spam. Nothing important to respond to, and I feel truly inferior. I’m planning to work over lunch on my novel, but I don’t even have a clue what I’m going to write about.  This is the scariest of times. Usually, I have some direction, at this point and am chomping at the bit for some free time to write. I’m blank.

7:00 AM – 11:00 AM. I spend time at my day job. I can’t tell you about it without killing you. It’s all HIPAA stuff and I don’t want to go to jail for giving up some protected information. I’ll just say that I’m good, and they are perfect.

11:00 AM I grab lunch as I could down the minutes till I’m planning to write. I create a salad at the cafeteria’s bar, all kinds of greens, carrots, black beans, black olives, a little cheese, croutons, and cranberries.  A scoop of Santa Fe Chicken Salad completes the meal.  Oh, and balsamic vinaigrette.   I pay and head to my desk, finish some work before the bewitching hour.

12:00 I open my draft of Mariline. It’s a good draft and I start reading. I still don’t know where I’m going with it. It’s not singing to me and I’m worried. I put on Radio Mozart and I let his melodies sink in. I’m adding something here and there and suddenly it’s

1:00 PM Make a backup copy of my script. I’m happy I was able to continue, but there is still so much to go. Back to work.

3:00 PM My co-workers and I break for coffee and talk about the things that are bugging us or what new in the cinema.  It’s a refreshing moment to take pause and see the duck that has decided to nest between the buildings on our way to the café.

4:00 PM I’m in my car and I’m heading home. Traffic isn’t too bad. I’m worrying as I speed down the entrance ramp, but I’ve timed it just right, I’m on and heading east.  The windows are down, and the wind is blowing what little of my hair around. 

4:15 PM I’ve gotten the mail and came home to my loving girlfriend. I want to kiss her but with all that coffee my ass will kiss the toilet seat before I kiss her.  I make up for that after I get out of my tie and into comfortable clothes.

5:00 PM Kim and I have been discussing our day and now we are deciding on food or TV.  Television wins out and the ten or so Investigation Discovery Network shows left on the DVR.  Blood, death and murder keep us occupied. I’m pulling out a bottle of Vodka and making a martini while still listening to the announcer talk about more blood, death, and murder.

6:00 PM I heat up some Smart Choice food and make a little side salad, still catching up on those murder shows. 

7:30 PM After all that death, I kiss Kim goodnight, and I go into the bedroom and read for a hour. The book in riveting and I’m really enjoying it. 

8:30 PM I fill my CPAP machine. Kiss Kim goodnight and I try to fall asleep. Audrey, my cat, decides that I’m the perfect shoulder to lay on and sniffs my ear and licks my face. Against her best efforts, I’m out cold.

2:00 AM I realize that Kim is in bed with me as I hear her groan about Audrey jumping across her pillow to get to me. Audrey sticks her bony feet it my arm and side as she settles again on my shoulder. Now she’s licking around my ear, trying, I guess to clean up the hairline around it. I’m trying to fall back asleep but there is something gnawing at me about my book. 

4:00 AM There is a scene that keeps going over and over in my mind.  I have to remember it for tomorrow when I’m working on the book draft.

5:00 AM I fall asleep.

5:30 AM DAMN!  I overslept!

That was the life of this writer not too long ago.

Elevators

-- they are part of a modern building interior
— they are part of a modern building interior

There is one sure thing in life other than death and taxes, and it happens to be Newton third law of physics, in essence, what goes up, must come down. As one meme that I saw this force does not apply to toilet seats. This is definitely true, in the world of elevators, and why I’m concerned at the two that are at my work.

For the last month, they’ve been tagged as out of service at least once a week. Sometimes it has been several days they were out of service. Sure I could go down to another building and ride that one, which is older than FDR, and takes longer to traverse the five floors (4 plus a basement) than an old person with a walker, a pacemaker, and glasses thicker than a Coke bottle takes to cross a sidewalk.  I suppose the other option, God forbid, is to take the stairs, but you know with the advanced arthritis and stenosis in my spine, walking up or down a flight of stairs puts a lot of pressure on my numb feet. I know, WAH WAH!   I should just suck it up, but why should I have to! You are missing the POINT! The elevators!!!

So they’ve enjoyed plenty of services this month, and I’m concerned. I don’t know if you are as freakishly as claustrophobic as I am, but sometimes getting into an elevator I become aware that the walls are coming in. If I’m not wrapped up in some part of the novel I’m writing and don’t stand in the center of the cab, my mind starts to squeeze body into something from a horror movie. Most times I only have to travel one floor, but I’m feeling like Luke, Leia, and Han in the Empire’s trash compactor. I’ve never screamed. I’ve tried to remain dignified, but my mind is like being in Club 54 on acid, popping, flashing, and swirling around in a circle until we all fall down.

These new issues make a simple ride into another type of hell. I’m spinning the roulette and wondering if I’m going to be lucky ones when the elevator decides to stop working. Then the game begins. I can remember one time that I was in the elevator with my co-worker, heading to the second floor, when, the elevator shot to the Attic, I didn’t even know that the elevator has letters? Like a rocket we raced to the top, then we fell back to the ground floor, and then we shot back to the top again. The two of us glanced at each other’s faces, permanently with our jaws locked on the floor and our eyes turning back in our heads. At some point in this pogo stick ride, it stopped on our floor and we jumped out before it changed its mind. I walked cautiously down the stairs for the rest of the day and hid in my cubical hoping the elevator gremlins didn’t find me.

So here I’m sitting, wondering when these elevators will be back in service.   It’s not the wait, it’s more wondering what is causing them to be out of service.   Is it something simple like the a light went out on the button panel or they are needed for testing how long it takes to get from the bottom to the top, or some poor co-worker fell four stories in a free-fall and had to be pried off the floor of the cabin, and environmental services had to bio-hazard sterilize the interior.

Maybe I don’t want to know.

Ode to Coffee

black coffee with coffee beansMonday mornings are more than a reason for coffee.  I don’t know what you experienced over the weekend, but mine I really try to get as much out of them as I can.  I know changing kitty litter doesn’t sound like a “wild wacky weekend” but to each his own.  I won’t judge you, if you don’t judge me.   I was sitting at work this morning with a with a my droopy eyes sucking closed.   A waft of coffee comes from the kitchen, I know, high class that we have a kitchen in our department, a co-worker is grinding beans to make the first pot of ‘wake-up’ of the day.  Soon the drip, drip, drip of black gold seeps through the carefully crafted paper filter and a full carafe is available.  The smell is wonderfully strong.  It does wonders to my bleary eyes still kicked in the head with sleep.   My body floats like a cloud, blowing by as I get up from my chair and go to the upstairs cafeteria for some other coffee.  Like a lot of things in life, convenience is just too damn convenient.

The elevator took me to the first floor and my apparition was passing by others in the same zombie coma.  Not a “Good morning” or even a “Hello” can be heard, just the grunt of acknowledgement from a kneejerk response of the cerebral cortex.  Cro-Magnon would have spoken in a greater literary prose than could reach my tongue in this stage.  Even baby talk would be more recognizable at least as a form of speech.   I am embarrassed that I can write and yet nouns and verbs are unknown to me before coffee.   The morning pox has taken hold and the remedy is a good stiff cup of Joe.

At the counter, I am presented with multiple choices; stong, decaf, flavored, bold, light and plain old hot water for those wusses that drink tea.  I drink tea in the afternoon or in the evening.  Tea is not made for breakfast unless you are sitting in a tea house with starched linens, dainty tea cups, classic English scones, and you have your pinky available for being poked into the air.  I grab a cup and start work on creating the perfect cup.  First 2% milk.  Why 2%?  Because I don’t want 5% milk fat and half and half is way too much milk fat in the morning.  I want my stomach to be excepting of my breakfast meal, I don’t want it to think the coffee is the meal.  Then, two Splendas.   I don’t use sugar.  I know I’ll be dead before you, I’m aware of that fact, you don’t have to tell me how bad inverse sucrose is bad for me, with all the aluminum and other by-products that appear in the fake sugar.  I used to use three Splendas.  I started to feel sick during the day, so I cut back.  It was easier to stop smoking.

OK, milk and sweeteners are in, now for the coffee, flavored; Jamaica Me Crazy.  It has a nice flavor and it doesn’t rip a bigger hole in my ulcer.  My parents learned to drink coffee black after years of cream and sugar.  I just can’t do it.   Like doing a shot of Irish whiskey, more liquid would wind up back in the cup.  Coffee is meant to be savored, so I have a sip.  The caffeine goes to work on the rest of my head and I’m starting to recognize signs, people’s faces, and holy shit, I’m at work!   It’s amazing the things you can do before coffee.   It’s kind of like waking up in your bed, in your pajamas, after a night of heavy drinking, thinking “how did I get here?” but not really wanting to ask or know the answer to that question.    I have another sip.  I’m able to order my breakfast from the cook.  Wow! This stuff really works!  I see a co-worker and say, “Hey!”  They say “Hey!” back.  I can tell they’ve had their coffee also.  The brain activity is now in full steam.  I’m really in a delusional state now thinking I can begin work.  I might even be able to get through the day.

I grab my food, which I finish at my desk, read my emails and the day begins again.  I look at my calendar and see that I had scheduled the day off.  DOH!  Well, maybe I can move it to tomorrow.

A Cautionary Tale of Dedication

car in snowWork!  Ah, my car in is in the shop now, poor baby!  I remember like it was yesterday.   In fact it was yesterday, I was lying in bed listening to the radio, and hearing how there wasn’t any snow falling yet in Reading (about 5 miles from my house).  So, like I have done for the last eleven years, I jumped out of bed, showered, dressed and fed the cat, en route to my lovely position at the Reading Hospital.  As I stepped from my apartment something didn’t seem right.   I looked around and there was all this funny white stuff about.  How did the radio miss this?  There were already inches of snow on the ground in no more that forty-five minutes.  But, none the less, I trudged on.  Cleaned my car, and spun my tires up the tiny hill that is my parking lot, rocking back and forth to help it as much as I could to get my car though the snow and what would be ice along the way.  I made it to the top, which is part of a long hill down to the main road.   At this point it was my choice to continue or to fall back.  I remembered reading from my astrologer that it would be tomorrow that my luck would run out.  Tomorrow would be the day when I would get stuck, so it was clear sailing.  I took a deep breath, put it into first gear and headed into the abyss.  I rolled slowly for a while.  I took note of the grooves in the snow from previous victims of this hill, making sure to avoid others that wound up against the curb.  As I got to midway, I could see the light at the end of the roadway.  There was actual hope on the horizon, and then tragedy struck.  I was in the middle of the road and I caught a line.  I tried to brake, but no matter how much pressure I applied, pumped or even tried to slow, it was totally non-responsive.  I remember thinking that I could get out of this.  I didn’t expect that I would hit the curb, as it slid.  Or even if it did, I thought I would be able to just back out.  Well, it slid.  I did hit the curb.  I sat in my seat calmly.  I first tried to back up.  Nothing.  I got out of the car and looked at the damage.  I knew right away that something was wrong.   The front passenger wheel was jammed up.  I believe there is supposed to be some space there for turning.  I called my insurance company and three hours later a tow truck took it away.   I shouldn’t listen to astrologers.

EJ Eisman is the author of the novels Spoon Girl and Malaise, published by AuthorHouse. He resides in Reading, PA and is also a musician, artist, playwright, actor and filmmaker.