As a writer there are many things I don't do very well. The foremost of which is my typing. I'm dreadful. I can't even classify it as a hunt and peck situation. It's more of a hunt, get up, grab a beer, run to the back yard and turn on the sprinklers, take a leak, saunter back and peck. Hunt, run out and turn off the sprinklers, get in the car and go for more beer, forget about typing till Thursday and move on.
I wish I could type. I remember waking up early in the bliss of the Park City house and listened to the sound of Marion on the keyboard. She could type a hundred thousand words a minute. I would pull my soft down pillow deep into my neck and keep my eyes closed imagining her beautiful manicured red nails gliding over the keys. Each click sounding purposeful and deliberate. She would watch the screen as she etched the script with her head slightly tilted and a small smile crossing her soft features, never once glancing down to look for a needed key. That sound of her typing was the sexiest thing I ever heard.
One of the other things I don't do well is dialogue. I wouldn't categorize myself as a big talker but I think I can hold my own in most conversations. The art though of having to carry both sides of human interaction is daunting. I freeze at the keyboard. My glacier paced tying noticeably slows. I hear only sirens and high-pitched sounds that only dogs detect.
I needed an exercise that held my interest.
Enter Alissa. She was the prop girl on the last film I worked. She was sweet, she was beautiful, she was witty and most importantly – she had an iPhone. Totally out of my league and I knew it. It made my diabolical plan perfectly achievable.
I should mention at this point I was finalizing a divorce and living in Atlanta, away from my “real home” in southern California. To pass some of the idle time I picked up on a story that I’ve wanted to write for years. In my head I had structure to the narrative but lacked the words for the dialog between one of the characters (a special effects technician – how poorly autobiographical) and a woman who also was working on the set. She was probably a script supervisor but hopefully a stunt girl (even a lowly FX guy can dream).
Alissa and I would visit occasionally between takes and I asked what her take on film set based relationships was. “Terrible, they’re carried out in secret, have little time to mature, and end in disaster.” “Perfect,” I said, “can you help me with a little project?”
I asked Alissa if she would run a continuing text message with me. My typing is poor and my texting is worse, but with the iPhone I at least had a keyboard. (Marion’s texting prowess didn’t make me hot or cold in any way- mostly because the keys make no sound…bummer.)
In the story, the FX guy has to work hard to woo the fair scripty. They are notoriously cold to below-the-liners. As are the stunt girls. Anyway, I set up the details with Alissa in vague terms, I was going to type messages to woo her, and she in turn would spin me into undetermined directions. And so it was started.
Alissa played it perfectly. She sent me high, and she laid me low. She made me work with through some blunders yet allowed me to worm my way back in with some timely wit and over the top compliments. It certainly made me think about the nature of relationships and how I was woefully inept. And some of my texts even overcame that. The exercise lasted about twenty days but the fodder for my story can transcend months. We worked fast.
I left Atlanta at the end of our “tryst” and we parted as we started. She held up her end of the bargain, as did I. We stayed true to the mission to only text each other as these characters and carry on as we perceive they would. And it has helped me to fill in major hole in the story.
I don’t get a chance to write her now and it kind of makes me sad. Because even though we were playing a part, she turned out to be the best text I ever had.