Talking about a project and starting a project are not the same thing.
Bradley picks me up downtown San Francisco. He’s joining me for an event at Book Passages in Corte Madera about a new online platform for writers called Wattpad. We met at the Book Passages fifteen years ago, at a writers workshop in the shabby backroom and it’s been our favorite hangout since. We try to meet a few times a year to discuss life, craft, ideas, and travel.
Ready for some Wattpad, I ask. Bradley is my go-to guru in all things web. He hates this. He wants out of website work.
What Pad? or Watt as in voltage Pad, he laughs. I’m surprised he hasn’t heard of it. None of us has, but Linda has always been an early adopter of new technology. Linda Watanabe McFerrin was our first writing teacher. We met in her class. She’s there tonight hosting the Wattpad event, still our muse.
How’s it being back here, Bradley wants to know. I’ve been back in Denmark, my native land, and it seems, I keep returning to San Francisco, still trying to untether. But how do you end a fifteen yearlong love affaire when you are still in love with the potential, the ideal, the dream of a place? To this adventuring soul, going home sounds awfully adult.
Truth be told, as much as I love it and feel at home here, I’m exhausted. The jetlag’s killing me, a client just dropped out, and I’m not loving staying downtown, in the midst of the piss-smelling dirty streets, sirens and crack addicts lying about on every street corner. Every time I come, I get a new sensation, last time it was fatigue, San Franisco, it’s people, the land, the air, all is exhausted. This time, I get a sense of angst and anger.
I hear you. I’m so sick of having my car broken into and gun dramas playing out in my backyard. I’m ready for a change.
We driving onto the Golden Gate Bridge. What’s not to love about this place? I sigh. Ahead, the rugged coast of the Marin headlands, to the left the Pacific ocean, all but peaceful, and to the right, the familiar Sausalito bay, Tiburon and Angel Island. My old digs is in Sausalito. I feel doubt pinch at my heart. How could I possibly leave this place.
Did I tell you? We’re moving to Holland for a year, Bradley says. I know it’s been a dream of his for a long time, and that since his father died last year, he’s shifted his whole perspective to live, fully and wholly from his heart.
Yes. I finally convinced Saskia to come along. The kids thinks I’m crazy, I do hope they well soften and see it as a new adventure. Our date is set for July.
Wow! That’s great. Personally, I’m happy to have you over there. We’ll have to do a writing project together or something.
Sure. What are you working on at the moment? We’ve both published books, and have a few more in the making, but haven’t had great success in terms of profits.
Well, I’ve been toying with the idea of turning stories from Lolo’s Boudoir and scenes I wrote for the Unveiled book into fiction, perhaps film scenes. I feel such an attraction to writing fiction, like a naughty pleasure, I have yet to experience, but I’m also scared. No idea if I can pull it off.
Just begin. Bradley tells me about how much fun he’s had writing children books with his two boys, about just getting his work out there, not worrying about perfection and marketing right now. I hope his enthusiasm rubs off on me.
A pregnant pause ensues.
Lone, have you thought of writing romance or erotica. It really sells.
I know, I met with a business man recently, he did tell me that the top sellers on Amazon are romance and light erotica for women.
Yes, you could turn Lolo’s Adventures into an erotic adventure. Would sort of be stupid not to tap that market.
Do you know why Shades of grey was such a success? I don’t get it. It was poorly written, phony, and the film, cheesy and cheap, not interesting at all, but she banked. Big time.
We should do one together? Write an erotica together. Make a fortune.
That’s a great idea, Bradley says. A he said, she said, kind of deal.
Perfect, I say, tickled with sudden inspiration. We’re both approaching 50, you’re married with kids, I’m divorced, looking for new love. Two different worlds and perspectives on romance. And it’s perfect actually, none of us has written romance before. We’ll be complete amateurs, and probably super cheesy.
And we could meet in Paris to write together?
Right, I play along, your wife will love that idea. She’ll find it suspicious and come along to keep an eye on us.
We laugh, knowing Saskia won’t really feel threatened by our creative ventures.
Maybe. Clearly we’re just creative pals, but, think about it: would writing an erotic story together be a kind of infidelity? I mean, we are imagining things together.
Bradley is thinking. You’re right. This might kill our friendship. That’s part of the story. We end up being the two friends who write a bestseller and never see each other again.
Melodramatic, like a Shakespearean drama, and definitely ironic.
We’ve arrived at Book Passage, and are greeted by the familiar smell of books and wide smiles of old writerly friends.
As the WattPad presentation begins, Bradley whispers, We need pen names. I don’t want to mix the children books and the erotica … it would give wrong signals.
I don’t care, I whisper back. I’m in, I want to be able to add this to my literary works and market it. This would be the first glitch in our beautiful project.
After the presentations and the cupcakes and wine, we’re even more lit up and hidden between two book shelves, we exchange more ideas:
We could test it all out in Wattpad, you write a chapter, I write chapter.
Well, we’d need to establish the situation basics and the story …
Or we just dive in, let it unfold, Bradley says.
We should write it part nonfiction, part fiction, write about this, right here, our conversation, our process and then, the romance story.
The meta story, of course. Bradley goes off into a long tirade about why the meta story is even more interesting, while I want to get down to the nuts and bolts: Who’d be the narrator, what’s the point of view? For the meta story, for the real story?
I say, This could be such fun and so weird it’s good.
Bradley says, This could be one of those freak things that could go viral. I think we need to have a series of books.
Platform. Traffic. Book deals. Screen Plays. Money. With heat in our cheeks and dollar signs in our eyes, we drive into the night, back to San Francisco.
Let’s just have fun, let’s not worry about market, strategy and all that now, were Bradley’s last words, before our Good Nights, and see you soon again.
Six months passes before this project is mentioned again.