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Many moons ago, I was a prolific writer. During my elementary school years, I used to churn out crudely drawn comic books by the bushel (derivative superhero stuff mostly). I peddled my work to classmates at a highly reasonable price of five cents per copy and invested most of my profits in baseball cards. When the market for hackneyed comics dried up, I branched off into short stories, poetry and essays. Though I wouldn’t make another dime off of my writing until I reached my mid-forties, I was happy just being creative—for awhile anyway.
After graduating from college, I took a stab at the “great American novel.” That’s when I experienced the ultimate writer’s nightmare. Though my head was full of epic ideas, my keyboard couldn’t translate them. Each session was worse than the last. At first, I couldn’t produce a single coherent paragraph. And then, as self-doubt began to creep in, I couldn’t string more than ten words together in any agreeable order. My quest to become a published novelist was over.
Or was it?
There are dozens of viable methods used to cure writer’s block: meditation, reading, watching movies, talking to your characters (etc.). None of them worked for me. I found other creative outlets while I was waiting for the darkness to lift. I composed dozens of songs on my guitar. I formed an acting troupe with a few friends and helped produce several episodes of a sketch comedy show called Mind Warp, which aired on public access television in Schenectady, New York. Eventually, I tried my hand at screenwriting.
I have heard it said that a screenplay is not a piece of art, it’s an explanation of a piece of art. I find that statement to be somewhat accurate. I was pleased to discover that movie scripts are actually easier to write than novels in some respects. In a screenplay, all the elements of a story are in place without the descriptive passages. For years, that’s what had been flustering me—those
My jaunt into screenwriting did not immediately lead to a novel. That came later with a little elbow grease. In the meantime, I began writing non-fiction books on my favorite topic—baseball history. In 2012, I was published for the first time. Long before then, I had developed a pretty good working knowledge of the game and had been toying with the idea of writing a baseball novel. When I got around to it, I discovered that the dreaded block was still in place so I wrote it as a screenplay instead.
In script form, The Bridgeport Hammer was a bare bones story that desperately needed to be fleshed out. For months, I stared blankly at my work, pondering how I would make the conversion. I decided to construct it as a memoir. Preparing myself for the worst, I struggled to compose a few introductory paragraphs. And then, something miraculous happened. As I began to identify with the narrator, the story took on a life of its own. The words came pouring out of me as if they had been there all along. After years of failure and frustration, I had finally completed my first novel!
From my perspective, The Bridgeport Hammer is more than just a novel. It is one writer’s triumph over the forces of literary evil. If I can get a few readers to share the joy, then my victory will be complete. You can visit my author pages at Amazon or Goodreads. I also have my own blog with weekly postings. You can find it at: www.jonathanweeks.blogspot.com.
About the Author:
Check out his “Cellar Dwellers” blog at: jonathanweeks.blogspot.com