It began with a jelly jar, and ended with a doorknob.
Okay. So I need you to be with me for a minute.
Being a writer, particularly an author who takes a year or two complete each novel, the research and writing process is predominantly a solitary experience, and one that readers — for the most part — don’t see.
Well … here’s a peak through that window as I look to finish the first Finders Keepers sequel, and my third novel under the Crazy 8 Press banner:
The last few months have been a whirling dervish. I recently sold my apartment in Queens, NY, and, at least for the time being, I’m living in my in-law’s loft in Central New Jersey.
And when I say “I”, I’m talking me, my wife, my three-year-old twins, and my dog. So, yeah … it’s an adjustment.
During this process — which is still ongoing — I’m also trying to buy a house in Northern New Jersey. If all goes well, it’ll be another 2-3 months, and then we get to start our new life, all living in one place with all of our stuff. Coolio.
Only … I still have to be a dad and a husband and keep delivering the goods for my full time day job in Manhattan. And … I’ve got another book to write! Yikes!
So where does the jelly jar and doorknob come into play? Glad you asked.
About three months ago, as we really started the packing process, and the end was finally in sight to sell our apartment, things started to fall apart.
The first was the refrigerator. One morning, after having walked the dog, I came back — thinking about a key sequence I needed to smooth out for the Finders Keepers sequel.
But when I opened the fridge to get myself a cold drink … WHAM-O!
A jelly jar fell from the shelf, and smashed on the floor. The jar fell because the protective plate on the inner door fell apart. It broke. And by the way, have you ever tried cleaning up jelly and broken glass off the floor while keeping your dog and young son from trying to ‘help’ you? Double yikes.
Turns out, however, that the jelly jar fatality was just the beginning. In the following weeks, not one, but two more inner refrigerator shelves broke. Three of the four burners on my stove went out. The light socket in the hall closet died.
Meanwhile, I’m trying to hold the rest of my life together, and somehow find the brain space to keep the Finders Keepers sequel moving forward. Delusional on my part? Possibly. But I’m a writer through and through, and us writer dudes have a veeeeeery tough time putting projects on hold.
Nevertheless, the boxes are piling up in my apartment, all while we continue to pack, to wrap up negotiations on selling my apartment AND on the weekends going house hunting in New Jersey to find a new place to live while we also coordinate child care during the few months we’ll be with my in-laws.
And then the toilet seat breaks. Not the whole toilet, just the seat and lid. And because it’s us, it’s not a standard ceramic seat, but a specialty seat that needs to be special ordered. So when I called the plumber we used asking for assistance — perhaps not as cordially as I should have — he basically told me to stick it someplace unsavory.
Which meant me going back to him and groveling appropriately to smooth things over — which I did — and we got a new seat delivered and installed. And then three weeks later … it came lose again! Ah! But it was still hanging on. Barely.
So now we’re getting closer and closer to moving out of the apartment — movers are booked, closing is scheduled, we’ve almost — almost — arranged for day care in New Jersey – and I’m still holding out hope — fleeting as it may be — that I can advance the Finders Keepers sequel just a bit.
I did manage to squeeze in a weekend appearance at Shore Leave, in August, and I do have a few others signings lined up.
And then … just two days before I needed to move out — and have the buyer of our apartment do a final inspection before she writes us the big check — I reach for the doorknob, so I can enter the hallway.
Something I’ve done thousands and thousands and thousands of times over the past eight years.
I reach for the doorknob and … it fell off.
The doorknob. Fell. Off.
It was one of those classic ‘laugh or cry’ moments. And to protect my manhood here, I won’t say which.
Later that day, I went out to Home Depot to get more boxes, and pick up the inner doorknob stem to fix the darn thing. Only … Home Depot doesn’t carry that one particular part. Grrrr. Next up was a trip to the hardware store, which — mercifully — did have it, and after a few twists with a screwdriver, the doorknob was back in working order.
There’s actually more to this story — so much more — but it would take more time and energy than any of us have.
In terms of my living situation, my apartment is officially sold, the check has cleared and in my bank account, and I am, indeed, living in my in-law’s loft. With a nifty 2 hour commute — each way, every day. But we’re getting closer to buying our own house, so there’s light at the end of this enormous tunnel we’ve been negotiating.
As for the Finders Keepers sequel … I haven’t been able to clack the keys on it for a while, but I’ll be back at it soon enough. The rest of the boys at Crazy 8 Press are bugging me to get that done!
But when I do finish, and I will … if you happen to notice a scene — or even a slight reference in there — to jelly jars or doorknobs … you now know the story behind the story. You’ve peaked through the window.
And if you’ve got a jelly jar story of your own … share it with us. Maybe it’ll make it into the next Finders Keepers novel.
Unless, of course, my computer falls apart while I’m writing it.