Something Big: “Tom and Charlie”

Here’s what I came up with for the writing exercise I posted yesterday:

When Tom Jarvis got the job as the new lit agent he was ecstatic. Now he could help make people’s dreams come true. Yes, the office was posh and the chair made sure his lumbar was very well supported but, ultimately, he wanted to help people get their deserving work published. That day twenty years ago was one of his most proud in his life. The birth of his children, the day Sheila said “I do”, and the day he took his last drink, leading him to fifteen years of sobriety, only top that first day when he looked through a slush pile and starting reading.

The slush pile was a favourite of Tom’s because it was where the rejects called home. The manuscripts that didn’t end up simply being shredded ended up conveniently in a box outside Tom’s office. “Tom’s pile” started as a joke but it ended up being more than that, because Tom, using his skills as an amateur editor, would read and annotate the manuscripts found there and then contact the writers, sometimes years later, and work with them. This process concluded with more manuscripts being published than not and instead of Tom’s colleagues scoffing at his methods they found that, if faced with something that wasn’t to their particular tastes, they would drop it in Tom’s pile not as slush but as a project for him. This respect was more “nod and smile” than “let’s present Tom with an achievement plaque” but plaques can fade and break while every smile is always new and hopefully genuine.

Charlie Logan found that the best way to write was to just simply write. Editing and grammar and spelling and plot and dialogue and structure could all go kindly, farg themselves until the 2nd draft. The 1st draft was about the pure, original, thought of a story, or of telling a story. Charlie’s romantic vision of sitting up all night at the computer and writing the next entry in Oprah’s Bookclub, was something he never actually found himself planning to do. But that’s what made it perfect. Because he hadn’t tried and failed at doing it, the story he was going to write and the future he envisioned for himself after sitting on O’s couch was perfect. This was just one of the perfect and untested things he thought about when he dreamed of finally being published because being unpublished didn’t really do it for him anymore.

Twenty years ago Charlie was ten years old and he was more concerned with playing street hockey and bike riding then reading a stupid book or, god forbid, writing one. Twenty years ago Charlie witnessed something that, with the help of therapy, he put out of his mind until twenty years later when he was thinking about possible story ideas and that incident popped in his mind. He decided that if he was going to be great, in writing and in life, it was time to open his heart and bleed himself onto the page.

Charlie started writing at 8pm and didn’t stop until 6:42 the next morning. That next day was filled with a satisfying sleep, followed by a coffee, some food and a few episodes of Rescue Me. Then he poured himself another bowl of Honeynut Cheerios and went to his computer. He was still full of the feeling that he had done something great. He felt that what he had accomplished last night was one of those things he would always look back on as the game changing moment in his life when he went from dreaming-dreamer to dreaming-doer.

“Fuck it,” Charlie said when he thought about giving it a full edit. He clicked the spell check button and that was it.

That day twenty years ago when Tom started agenting was one the most important days in his life and Charlie’s. Not only had Charlie witnessed that incident but Tom’s first day led him twenty years plus one day later to pick up Charlie’s all night writing project from the top of his pile and help make another dream come true.


About jtkwriting

Writer living in Toronto. "Sneak out of your window darling, let's live like outlaws honey." View all posts by jtkwriting

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