A Writer's 21st Century Memoir.

Why I Am Contractually Obligated To Finish Writing a Novel

There is a reason why I am incredibly motivated to start writing again, and it’s not from some sense of impending doom or anything like that. I wish I could say it was completely on my own accord, but it’s not. It’s actually because of a free meal that I had last week.

Before I start the story—no, I didn’t dine and dash or steal the meal, someone actually let me eat for free. It actually happened on an outing with a friend in downtown Los Angeles. My friend, who is an architecture student, wanted to visit a few mixed-use buildings in downtown to get some ideas for her architecture project.

Her dad owned a few buildings in the area and she wanted to use his connections to view the plans of certain places and take tours of some of the loft and apartment structures to see the layouts. She asked me to tag along so that she wouldn’t have to go alone into the city, and we spent the majority of the day strolling around the city’s streets and playing giant chess on top of one of the apartment buildings. It was when we stopped to get something to eat at the Nickel diner when I was forced back into writing the novel that was just waiting in my head to be written.

My friend’s dad also owned the building that this popular restaurant was sitting in and my friend had a habit of eating there for free because she knew the owner. So when the owner came up to us after we finished our meal it was only natural for her to just take the bill and let us go without paying—but she didn’t. At least not right away.

She took the time to come over and catch up with my friend about her architecture projects and her random year upstate. They chatted light heartedly for a few minutes before they finished and the owner turned her attention to me.

“So—wait—how do you guys know each other again?” She said as she pointed to the both of us.

“I actually used to be an architecture student too,” I responded.

“So then what are you know then?”

“I’m an English major and a Journalism minor.”

“Really? You know I did the exact same thing when I was in school. I was an architecture student and then I switched to English,” she laughed at the odd coincidence, “but now I’m the owner of a restaurant. What made you switch?”

I told her about how I liked architecture but how practicing architecture wasn’t for me and that writing was really my passion. She asked me what I had read lately and which authors I was into and somehow the whole discussion spilled my secret of finishing a novel. When we were done with our conversation she stood up, grabbed the check, and turned to face me directly.

“If I’m covering this then you need to write your novel,” she held up the bill looking directly into my eyes.

“I will,” I said.

My friend and I thanked her for covering the meal and we said our goodbyes as she was shooing away filmmakers outside her building trying to film without a permit (only in L.A. right?) and we continued the rest of our day in downtown.

Now I know I’m not actually contractually obligated to finish writing my novel or anything, and that she most likely was just half joking, but the experience was an eye opening one. I had let dozens of elaborate stories sit in a totally trashed notebook for years without ever really touching it, and at the rate that I was going when I did pick it up from time to time I was probably going to finish the first one right before I keeled over.

Ever since then though I’ve found a time period before my day really begins when I can sit down with a cup of coffee or tea and just write. I’ve been putting this task of finishing any of my novel ideas for so long that the stacks of napkins and note paper with excerpts of various stories were making a mess all around my room, and now I am finally doing something about it. I wish I could have said that I was motivated by myself to get back into the swing of things again, but I really can’t. I don’t know why, but if it wasn’t for the free meal I probably would have never really started writing again.

2 responses

  1. I liked the wordplay of your day out in Los Angeles, and I assumed from the start that you may have seen something that sparked that light inside of you. lol…but really, sometimes it takes a complete stranger to send you a wake up call. I’m also in the process of fininishing my first novel and perhaps combining different characters and plots for a more intense structure of a storyline.



    February 22, 2012 at 4:22 PM

    • Lol, thanks. I’m so glad that I did get that wake up call though. Now I can’t wait to get to that point where I can see more or less of a finish line to this first novel I’m working on.


      February 22, 2012 at 10:37 PM

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