As everyone will be out trick or treating tonight or in this case in Central Indiana tomorrow night now because of the predicted storms I wait patiently for the clock to strike midnight. That’s because at midnight EDT National Novel Writer’s Month begins and I will start the finishing touches to a novel I have worked on for the last 20 years. I credit my friend and writing colleague, Jen Tucker, for mentioning the website http://www.nanowrimo.org on several occasions as a way to motivate me to finally finish my novel. Last year was the first time I ever looked at the site in depth and what it was all about.
Unfortunately for the last two years I have suffered through the worst case of “writer’s block” I have ever had. It began in August of 2011 while I was “stringing” for the Franklin Daily Journal covering high school football. My writing was in an abyss of non existence and in the back of my mind it frustrated me.
After I finished my half marathon Oct. 19 I tried to think of what my next big project would be to conquer. Then I got a NaNoWriMo update and it clicked. I ran 499.14 miles from June 18 to Oct. 19. If I can run a half marathon – I can finish my novel.
I was not confident my desire to write had returned. I texted Jen frequently about it. I e-mailed other friends, who know my writing and sometimes know me better than I know myself. All were so encouraging with their thoughts and ideas. I figured the best way to know if I was ready to really tackle the finish was to write my race recap. I also wanted to start anew and decided to move my blog to WordPress. As I previously stated I had a blog on another site but it was time for a change.
I have a home office and for the most part I can be in there and create my “Mind Palace” atmosphere. For some reason though last Friday I needed to get out of my usual surroundings. I went to lunch at the new Firehouse Subs then to Barnes & Noble – where for some reason the WiFi was having some serious issues. I ended up at Panera Bread – another one of my favorite places to create my away “Mind Palace.”
While I listened to the theme music from my favorite television show “Sherlock” I began typing about my experience of training and then eventually running the Indianapolis Half Marathon. By the time my wife text me to stop at the store to pick up two-liter soft drinks it was 4:15 pm. I had busted out 2,000 words in a little over two hours.
What “writer’s block?”
Now cured of this horrible disease, which gets even the best of writers, tonight at midnight I begin to put closure to my novel. One when people ask me what it is about I explain it as John Grisham meets “Blue Chips.”
I followed the college basketball recruiting circuit very close during my years as a reporter. I looked forward to annually attending the Nike All-American Camp at the National Institute of Sport and Fitness on the campus of Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). I also attended any Amateur Athletic Union tournament that was held close to the area.
Anyway everything I viewed at these venues I used to put together a plot about the top recruited basketball player in the nation. The player’s name was T.J. Stevens and he played for the fictional Brandon North High School in fictional Brandon, Indiana. Stevens was a 6-foot-4 shooting guard and was wanted by every major college basketball program including Indiana University. He was one of the most versatile players to come out of Indiana since Damon Bailey maybe even Oscar Robertson. Brandon North was also ranked No. 1 in Class 4A (the biggest enrollment class in Indiana) with record of 19-0 and Stevens was the leading candidate that season for Mr. Basketball.
Unfortunately as Stevens landed from the record-breaking throw down he slipped on the floor. He suffered a career threatening injury with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and a spiral break of his tibia bone. The injury would cost Stevens the coveted Mr. Basketball award for the state of Indiana and also Brandon North would lose in the semistate round of the tournament. It was also found that his shoes had been tampered with after further investigation.
My thought was to have my two alter egos – Michael Cambridge and Ric Bryant – who were college roommates and fraternity brothers as journalism majors at IU – join forces. During their time at IU Bryant and Cambridge were sportswriters for the Indiana Daily Student and covered the Hoosier basketball team during their run to undefeated season and national championship in 1976. Somehow I also planned to have it set up next to a character resembling the Bloomington Herald Times sports editor Bob Hammel. The duo would be one of the few members of the media to have an ongoing-happy relationship with the IU basketball coach which would also be similar to then IU coach Bob Knight.
Cambridge – ever the cynic and nose for knowing something wasn’t right in the world of college basketball recruiting – coming to Brandon, Indiana and telling Bryant his theory that the shoes didn’t come apart on their own. It was a mafia-like person with close ties to a program trying to recruit T.J. who did something to the shoes. Several years ago Cambridge himself had brought down the program associated with the gangster. Unfortunately Cambridge could never pin him for any wrong doing.Throughout the rest of the read Cambridge and Bryant travel the college basketball recruiting circuit looking for answers. Of all places a barber in Brooklyn – who used to serve as a middle man in the recruiting wars of some of New York’s best players – also had insight as to what happened to Stevens in his last game.All the while Stevens’ parents decide to sue the shoe company for the injury suffered because of the shoes falling apart. The athletic apparel company feels the need to have local representation in the civil trial and hires Bryant’s wife as counsel.As Bryant and Cambridge do their best Woodward and Bernstein/Holmes and Watson act they find out Stevens may not have always been an innocent during his recruitment. At some of the tournaments to either sound cocky or to see what could be offered the reporters find out Stevens either talked about or asked recruiters what kind offers could be on the table if he signed with their program
When I took a job with AuthorHouse in 2010 there was a bright glimpse of hope I would finish the work. One of the perks working at AuthorHouse was after a year of service the company would publish a book you wrote for free. My father died unexpectedly on Sept. 9, 2010 and I completely shutdown. I quit working at AuthorHouse and gave up the idea of resurrecting the novel once again.
Last year with NaNoWriMo I posted the novel to the site but didn’t really do any actually typing. Starting tonight – that’s all different. At midnight the noticeable sign I am in my “mind palace” – my baseball hat on backward – and will signal I am ready to be a writer pressing deadline once again.
Sidenote – I am looking for a title to my novel. After reading the synopsis – write your suggestion in the comments and then we’ll have a poll and see which one wins…