352 – December 18
“Teach thrift to all with whom you come in contact; you never know when you may need their savings to finance one of your ventures.”—Don Marquis
One Saturday, I went to a local bookstore for “The Largest Writing Workshop in the World,” which hosted local authors to speak on the craft of writing. As I had just signed the contract for my first book, I had several agendas: 1) I wanted to participate and learn something new about the craft of writing; 2) I wanted to find out how events like this were done; and 3) I wanted to introduce myself to the store manager, let him know of my upcoming publication and see if I could arrange to speak and do a book signing at his store (sending out ships early!).
The first speaker was author Billy Mernit, who has written Writing the Romantic Comedy. Charming and upbeat, he introduced himself, telling us that he was an expatriate New Yorker: “Once a New Yorker, always a New Yorker!” he exclaimed laughingly. His eyes twinkled as he confessed that he still had a storage locker in New York filled with couches, lamps, tables, chairs and other furniture along with “forty to forty-five boxes.” He shook his head as he considered the quirk of character that kept him paying $100 per month for this piece of home in New York.
My ears picked up at this news. “How many years have you had this locker?” I asked.
“Ten!” several members of the audience shouted, as Billy now tried to claim only “Nine.” Everyone laughed as Billy sheepishly acknowledged the total expense he had accrued in order to keep his toehold in New York: $12,000.
To a New Yorker in Los Angeles, this expense to remain a New Yorker is probably worth it. But the rest of you might take a look at where your past is dragging money away from your future and let go.
Billy led us through some thoughtful writing exercises, then told us how he had created his latest book, That’s How Much I Love You with his wife of two years, artist Claudia Nizza from Italy. They had met on a moonlight hike in Hollywood and love blossomed quickly. They dated for several weeks before her vacation was over and she had to fly back to Rome. He bought her a ticket back to Los Angeles, but she couldn’t return for several months, so they talked on the phone often. He would ask, “Have I told you how much I love you?” Claudia would say, “No,” and he would make up little stories to explain his deepening love for her. And one time he called and she said, “Okay, we do a book.” They married on a hilltop in Malibu and their book is beautiful.
Everyone laughed when I asked if she had a storage locker in Italy. “No,” he replied. “But she has a studio there!”
“I am rich in life and love and all the world is my home!”
If I wasn’t writing this book at the time, I probably would have forgotten all about this incident. How many fun, upbeat, quirky, sad, disturbing, or interesting things happen to us every week that we enjoy for the moment, but then never think of again?
My sisters have memories of childhood incidents that I have forgotten completely, and I have some that they don’t remember at all, either. Memory is selective. You retain what you determine to remember, or what makes a special impression on you, or that you have a strong emotional reaction to.
A funny thing about going to this bookstore event was that many of the Barnes and Noble bookstores across the country were participating, and I called around to several of the stores in the Los Angeles area to see who the instructors were going to be. One store was having John Voorhees, who writes about poker and has a regular column in the Card Player magazine. As a poker aficionado, I thought that would be great, so I decided to go there.
But somehow, I got my wires crossed and ended up at the Marina del Rey bookstore instead. I don’t know how that happened, but once there, I decided just to stay and make the best of it. What’s that quote? “Things turn out the best for people who make the best of the way things turn out” or something like that. I definitely think this turned out for the best – I loved meeting Billy. And I got two more pages for The Wealthy Spirit out of it, too!