Today is January 31, and the way I see this date, it’s 31 days of failure. Since January 1, I have worked on a novel that is based on the life of actor James Franciscus who starred in the 1950’s TV show “Naked City.” I know nothing of his private life, but his face over the years stayed with me, as if it was glued into by brain. It is his face that I first think of when awake in the mornings. Mind you it is no longer a nightmare, but something about his features gives me comfort.
I’ve been formatting the narrative every day since the first. At first, I based a narration from one of the many “Naked City” episodes. Which by the way is a fantastic show. Mostly filmed on location, one sees New York City as if it was shot by Weegee. There is one episode where he shoots a criminal, but feels really bad about it. It was the first time that in his career as a cop, where he had to shoot someone. Even though it was a life and death situation, if he didn’t shoot the guy, he would have got shot. But still, he couldn’t erase the feeling of dread due to the actions of the thug as well as his response to the creep. I thought of this narrative on a regular basis and I was trying to write my own version of the story, but it always came out bland and pointless. It was at this time I wondered if I had the talents to become a writer, and actually if I had the talent to write a novel.
The insecurity that swelled up inside me was almost too much. Once I get that nagging feeling I immediately try to make of something else. Usually I put on the vinyl copy of “Diamond Head” by Phil Manzanera who is also the guitarist for Roxy Music. From 1972 to maybe 1976, this was a band that couldn’t do wrong -either as a group or as solo artists. I always looked up to Bryan Ferry and company as a platform of excellence. But for my taste, Manzanera never let me down. He and Johnny Rotten are probably the two music figures that I admire the most. When I tried to be a visual artist, I did an oil portrait of Manzanera and Rotten sitting on a park bench in Echo Park by the man-made lake. The painting struck me as pretentious so I never finished it, which of course caused anxiety and depression. I then thought of making a statue, in sort of Robert Graham style, of both of them, standing tall and shaking hands. It would have become a commentary on the nature or relationship between prog/glam and punk rock. But this as well, failed, due that I don’t have any talent in making sculptures.
My novel I’m writing is slowly killing me. It looks as though I am so focused on Franciscus for no real reason. Now I have the fear that readers will think i 'm putting this character in for no reason, and perhaps they’re right. Writers make terrible decisions, and readers are always right. They can smell a phony writer or artist a mile away.
What makes this current ‘failure’ the worst, is that I left my job of 25 years to write this novel. I reckoned that if I did something so drastic as to cut my line to economic security, it will somehow make me a better writer, or in a sense to put out or shut up. Now I feel that the public will expect me to shut up.
I pretty much stay in the house, just to focus on the writing, but at times I feel I need to go out and sort of see the world in a fresh light. I took the 92 bus to Spring Street, and hung out at The Last Bookstore. I wanted to buy some records there, but regardless of the fact that the prices were inexpensive, I felt I shouldn’t spend any money right now. I left the store and headed towards Broadway, where I come upon a bar/restaurant called Les Noces du Figaro. It was happy hour, and I thought. Wow I need a glass of wine. I went in, and there were not that many people there, which is the way I like a bar. I ordered a glass of wine, which came to $4. For whatever reason, I thought that this was the best $4 investment I made since the first of this month.