This year we decided to spend Christmas in Asheville at the Grove Park Inn. It is quite a place. The original part of the hotel was opened in 1913 and despite several additions the place retains its Craftsman-style heritage. Our rooms were in the oldest part of the hotel and were reached by a pair of tiny elevators each with their own very congenial operator.
In our part of the hotel one could really sense what a treat it was for someone to stay there when the place could only be reached by horse-drawn carriages and cranky automobiles that overheated from the climb. Across the hall from our room there was a brass plate that said that a suite of rooms had been occupied by F. Scott Fitzgerald during the summer of 1927-28. He had come to the hotel to write and the quiet seclusion of the place seemed ideal. On reading that, I have to admit that the idea of holing up in some posh hotel and having room service take care of my wants while I pounded out some literary epic was appealing. The truth, however is far from that.
Now that I have “gone south” to live and I am away from the dreary climate of New Jersey, I have made myself a quiet coin écrit in the upper level of our home. While room service is out of the question, although Pat does pamper me, I began to wonder what advantage Fitzgerald was seeking. Writing is not an easy task, writing well, … yes, that is quite different. I cannot claim any accolades for my work. After all, I crank out adventures where my main characters have, like some of the film characters they are modeled from, some obvious flaws and vices and are not about to provoke the reader’s sense of conscious or ethos.
I grew up watching film noir, reading True, Argosy, Terry and the Pirates and Sax Rohmer’s tales of Dr. Fu Manchu. Action and fantasy, if you will, but for me there has to be a sense of reality. Right now, I am waiting for my editor to finish with her cuts at another manuscript. Like waiting for an overdue airliner, I am hoping that, although late, it arrives with wings intact.
Seeking quiet solitude to begin the re-write is out of the question. Like a pile driver pounding footings into the earth, my brain will be busy enough once the draft arrives. Days will pass with me going back over the text, subtracting, adding, polishing and groaning when some poorly phrased passage is pointed out to me. All the while, the pile driver reminds me I have a deadline. Like someone said, the best part of deadlines is the whooshing sound they make when they pass. Anyway, I will eschew the arty silence for the rapid-fire realism of the deadline. More, when I know more.