by David Lott


From: Timothy Waters <waterfall@u-bettcha.com>
Sent: Friday, October 06, 11:32 PM
To: Paul Storey
Subject: Great to meet you!
Attachments: Windmills.doc; BigBook.doc

Hi, Paul,

 Just dropping you a quick line to tell you how pleased I was to meet you tonight—a fellow “struggling artist”! I’m sorry we didn’t get to talk more. It would’ve been fun to bar-hop and chat into the wee hours. Oh well, another time, right?

 I have to say that these guest-speaker events are usually so unfulfilling, for me at least. I show up with notebook in hand, ready to jot down pointers from the “masters”—like pinching crumbs off the kitchen floor, I guess—but inevitably, I come away disappointed. After their readings, the “esteemed” authors (can’t the event planners think up another adjective?) either go on and on about their brilliant careers and their ever-supportive spouses and children, or any advice they offer is so vague or esoteric. (Like tonight, when Dr. Stewart mentioned “the art of suffering and suffering for your art.” What does that mean?!)

And then, to make it worse, the crowd always act like such sycophants. Didn’t you hate how everyone laughed just a little too loudly at Dr. Stewart’s jokes when he came into the reception hall and then pressed ahead to get close to him? I’ve never seen so many martini and wine glasses balanced in the air as everybody tried to slip forward through the throng!

Paul, if you don’t mind me saying so, I could tell right away that you were different. When I spied you across the room at the drinks table—away from the sheep!—with your thumb hooked in the pocket of your jeans, sipping your whiskey (I believe you said you’re a Scotch man, no?), my first thought was “Well now, here stands Mr. Down-to-Earth.” And I mean that as a compliment! I just knew you’d be the kind who doesn’t give two flips about what the “real” artists have to say. And you confirmed it for me with your interesting and original story concepts, as well as your unique “take” on life in general—all in that wonderful Southern dialect of yours. (By the by, I want to hear more about your “subway-as-id” philosophy!) And, to top it off, your recent publishing successes! Congratulations!! I called us struggling artists before, but you’re much less a “struggler” than I! Three pieces in three journals in six months?! (Which ones were they again?) And your second novel coming out next year? Color me impressed! . . . and green with envy. Just kidding. :-) (As I told you, I’m still waiting for that first nibble, but it will happen!)

Anyway, Paul, I’m completely inspired after our all-too-brief conversation. I hope you don’t mind that I’ve attached a couple of things here: my latest piece, “Windmills on Sixth Avenue,” as well as the first few chapters of my own novel in progress (as yet untitled). I’d be interested to know what you think. And please send me some of your work. Can’t wait to read anything you’re willing to show me!

Again, Paul, very nice to meet you. All best wishes!

Tim W.




From: Timothy Waters <waterfall@u-bettcha.com>
Sent: Monday, October 09, 7:38 AM
To: Paul Storey
Subject: RE: Great to meet you!

Hi (again), Paul,

I had a little time before I dash off to work this morning and thought I’d check in to make sure you received my note from last week. (Maybe I don’t have the right e-mail address?)

Anyway, if you have a minute and could shoot a mail my way, at least letting me know you’re “out there,” I’d appreciate it!

Best,

Tim Waters




From: Timothy Waters <waterfall@u-bettcha.com>
Sent: Wednesday, October 11, 9:44 PM
To: Paul Storey
Subject: RE: RE: Great to meet you!
Attachments: Windmills_REV.doc

Hello (again-again!), Paul,

I thought I’d give you one more try. I guess, though, I really must have the wrong address. :-(

In case you are there, I’m attaching a revision of “Windmills.” I couldn’t keep myself from picking at it! (Sigh.) But I’m sure you know what that’s like. “Writing” is really “rewriting,” as they say.

Please do let me know if you receive this mail.

Thanks,

Tim Waters




From: Paul Storey <whatsyourstorey@ps-mail.com>
Sent: Friday, October 13, 3:16 PM
To: Timothy Waters
Subject: Great to meet you!

tim, got your posts, appreciate your interest. in touch soon,

paul storey




From: Timothy Waters <waterfall@u-bettcha.com >
Sent: Friday, October 13, 7:08 PM
To: Paul Storey
Subject: Thank you!

Hey, Paul,

Thanks for your e-mail!! I’m glad to know that I was actually “connecting,” not just sending messages out into the ether! :-)

As I said before, I hope you’ll send me something of yours to read. And I look forward to your comments on my work, although I admit I’m a tad nervous! (Please remember, too, to look at the most recent version of “Windmills.” Thx!)

And hey, now that the weekend is upon us, is there a chance we could meet up? Maybe tomorrow, or even tonight for a late supper or nightcap? I’m free for whatever . . .

BTW, next Wednesday evening, Oliver Erickson is giving a reading at Beckett Books in the East Village (but I’m sure you knew that already). Are you planning to attend? Maybe afterwards we could grab a drink (or three???). Let me know.

All the best,

Tim

PS—I almost forgot (!): Although I didn’t send you an updated file, please keep in mind, as you read the chapters from my novel, that I’m changing “Benjamin” to “Barney” throughout. The shorter name sounds better to me and gives the book a decidedly smoother flow. Also, in the “street scene” at the beginning of chapter 12, and then throughout most of chapters 15 and 16, I plan to refer to “lampposts” rather than “fire hydrants”—a more inspiring image, methinks! Anyway, not a big deal, but just so you know. Thx!




From: Timothy Waters <waterfall@u-bettcha.com >
Sent: Tuesday, October 17, 6:21 PM
To: Paul Storey
Subject: RE: Thank you!
Attachments: Windmills_REV2.doc; BigBook_REV.doc

Hi, Paul,

I didn’t hear back from you, so I figured you were all booked for the weekend. Hope you had a pleasant one. If I know you at all—and I suspect that I do!—you were hunched in front of your computer screen like I was! What else is new, eh?

Anyway, I’m e-mailing (again!) because I knew you’d appreciate this: A good friend of mine pointed out some inconsistencies in the revision of “Windmills on Sixth Avenue.” (Thank God for those kinds of friends!) So, I am attaching to this mail yet another reworking of the story. Feel free to do what you will with the first two versions.

I also said to myself, “What the heck!” and decided to give you the updated version of my novel—with “Barney” and “lampposts” swapped in everywhere. It’s attached, just so you’ll have the correct version in front of you . . .

Lastly, you didn’t let me know whether you’re going to the Erickson reading tomorrow. Should I plan on meeting you there?

All the very best,

Tim




From: Paul Storey <whatsyourstorey@ps-mail.com>
Sent: Thursday, October 19, 3:23 PM
To: Timothy Waters

hi tim, not a big oliver erickson fan, sorry to say. also, i’m having trouble picturing you from the stewart event. were you the tall gentleman or the youngish man with red hair? when i wrote you before, i had you confused with someone else, somebody working on a screenplay he wanted me to read.

in fact, expecting the screenplay, i took a quick look at your windmills story. i enjoyed what i read, but the slapstick involving the don quixote character soon became just a bit repetitive. I’d suggest cutting back on the comedy and expanding the rest of the piece.

hope this helps.

yours,

paul storey




From: Timothy Waters <waterfall@u-bettcha.com >
Sent: Thursday, October 19, 6:36 PM
To: Paul Storey
Subject: Thanks!
Attachments: Windmills_REV3.doc; AnEarlierIncident.doc

Hi, Paul,

No, no, no, I walked up when you were talking to those two, remember? You shot me a look that said, “Rescue me, please!” (Believe me, I’ve been there.) No, I was the thin guy with the beard. Wearing the brown three-piece suit and the orange “power tie”? Remember?

Anyway, thanks for your mail (:-)) and for your comments on “Windmills.” A few people in one of my writing groups originally suggested I pull back some of the “jokier” material too, and I did. But I wonder if you were reading the very latest version. (Remember, it was “REV2” not “REV” that I wanted you to look at.) Anyway, it doesn’t matter; I’ve attached another revision to this e-mail (“REV3”). I guess I could just go on and on forever! Most of the humor is now stripped out completely. (And just so you know, I’m not at all married to the middle section—the part that begins “The lonely stretch of asphalt was now his chess board”—so skip over that if you feel the piece is stronger without it.)

Let me know what you think—if and when you’re able to carve out some time in between your important work commitments.

And I hope you don’t mind, but I’m also attaching a very rough draft/detailed outline of a new story I put together in the last day or two—“An Earlier Incident.” Yes, it’s a parody—a takeoff on life in the city. I think I must have had your subway theory in mind when I wrote it. (Sorry if I filched!) I just love (not!) when I’m waiting for a train that’s late, and they blare that inimitable, garbled announcement over the intercom, “After an earlier incident, please expect delays, blah, blah, blah.” I’m always thinking track fire or “police action,” but what if the actual “incident” is that the train conductor needs to make pit stops all along his route because he has a really bad hangover? (Or diarrhea?? Or something?!) I’m in my “brainstorming phase” right now, so I’m open to suggestions. (And FYI, please note that for easy reference, any time the conductor’s “condition” is mentioned, I’ve put “H/D/O” in brackets—for “Hangover / Diarrhea / Other”—just a series of simple reminders until a final decision is reached.)

Anyway, I know it’s a whimsical imagining, but I do hope at least that the humor in this new story doesn’t seem too—or even a “bit”!—repetitive. ;-) But please be honest!

Best wishes,

Tim

PS—Sorry that you aren’t an Oliver Erickson fan, and sorry that you missed what turned out to be an incredible evening at Beckett Books! I was not disappointed, as I usually am. (Although, as with Dr. Stewart’s reading, it was a fawn-fest after Mr. Erickson was done. I still can’t get over how shameless a lot of these people are!) Oh well, let’s shoot for another time and place. Can’t wait!




From: Timothy Waters <waterbug@a-ok.com >
Sent: Friday, October 20, 10:21 PM
To: Paul Storey
Subject: Tomorrow night?
Attachments: AnEarlierIncident_REV.doc

Hi, Paul,

Sorry to bug you. It’s been one of those days, and I’m about three seconds from falling over—but I wanted to check in with you, for several reasons. First, I read back over “An Earlier Incident,” and the hangover/diarrhea angle was simply not working. So I revised and revised and revised, and I now think I’ve got the piece where it needs to be. The updated version is attached. (It’s still a bit over the top, with time travel and dream sequences throughout, but I have to admit it makes me laugh.)

Secondly, I’m writing to ask whether you’d want to get together tomorrow night—to catch up, share some ideas, etc. I’m on the Upper East Side (way East, off York), but could hop a train if you have a favorite watering hole somewhere. Let me know.

See you soon!

Tim

PS—Just so you know, I’ve switched Internet providers and my e-mail address is different now, as I’m sure you noticed. Please write me back at this new address going forward. (Sigh . . . It’s always something, right?) Thx! :-)




From: Timothy Waters <waterbug@a-ok.com >
Sent: Saturday, October 21, 12:19 PM
To: Paul Storey
Subject: Tonight??
Attachments: Attachments: Windmills_REV4.doc; AnEarlierIncident_ REV2.doc; BigBookInsert_pg12.doc; BigBookInsert_pg 15.doc; BigBookInsert_pg23.doc; BigBookInsert_pg 36.doc; BigBookInsert_pg 58.doc; BigBookInsert_pg 77.doc; BigBookInsert_pg 87.doc; BigBookInsert_pg 103.doc

Hey, Paul,

Well, in the end, I couldn’t sleep last night (after feeling so exhausted!). I tossed and turned, thinking about “Windmills” and “An Earlier Incident.” Finally, I got out of bed and tore through revisions on each. I had no idea I could type that fast! I’ve attached the new versions. My changes made both pieces longer, but better. (I hope! . . . But let me know what you think.)

I’ve also attached various inserts to my novel, rather than bothering you with a completely new version. They are all coded to page numbers, so simply swap in each one when you reach its particular page. (This is better than a whole new file, right?)

BTW, I’m still up for going out tonight if you are. Drop me a line!

Best,

Tim

PS—By the way, Paul, consider yourself “Googled”! Since you haven’t had a chance to send me any of your work yet, I thought I’d go find it myself. A couple of the journals that recently published your stories showed up in my search, so I’m planning to track them down. One of the sites mentioned that you’ve set some of your fiction in the small town you grew up in, Brookfield. (Or Brookton?) So quaint! Anyway, I’m hoping to contact the editors. I might “mention your name” and submit something too. I don’t usually like to pull strings, but you do what you’ve got to do, right? Oh, and your interview with that weekly arts paper (is that out of Chelsea?) was great! I loved your clown-story idea. Let me know where you are with that, because it’s a super concept, and if you’re not going to write the story, I will! (Just kidding :-))




From: Paul Storey <whatsyourstorey@ps-mail.com>
Sent: Saturday, October 21, 3:08 PM
To: Timothy Waters

tonight is out for me, tim.

i want to be clear, too, that i am stretched so thin these days with my own projects, i really don’t have the time to devote myself to anything else.

but best of luck to you.

paul storey




From: Timothy Waters <waterbug@a-ok.com >
Sent: Sunday, October 22, 2:46 AM
To: Paul Storey
Subject: That is so weird . . .
Attachments: Windmills.doc; BigBook_REV2.doc; CCClown.doc

Paul,

That is so weird that after not hearing from you, I run into you (literally!) at Will o’ the Wisp. What a fabulous bar! You mentioned it in that arts paper interview, and I just had to see it for myself.

Are you OK, by the way? I’m sorry I bounded out of the men’s room like that! They should put up a sign: “Please Open Door Very Slowly; Otherwise, People on Other Side Will Get Smashed in the Face!” Sorry, bad joke. I guess I’m still a little tipsy. And now I’m home and see that you did write back. (I didn’t think to check my old address earlier. Remember, I have a new address: waterbug@a-ok.com, NOT waterfall@u-bettcha.com. I can check my old address for now, but not for much longer, so—again—please make note of this new e-mail address. Thank you, thank you, thank you!)

Anyway, Paul, your other plans must’ve fallen through in the end, huh? (Or you were trying to avoid me—and look where that got you! Just kidding . . . :-)) After I realized it was you I’d knocked into, I wanted to buy you a drink (or let you buy me one!) and really talk seriously about what’s going on here with our e-mail correspondence, because I think it’s pretty special. But I completely understand that with a bashed nose and blood streaming everywhere (and your “friend” yelling at me and acting as though he were trying to “hold you back”—what was that all about?), you needed to get thee to a doctor! But what a lost opportunity. :-(

I do hope you’re better now. And I hope you know that I “get it” when it comes to being stretched thin. I completely sympathize with how very, very busy you must be, Paul. You’re an “esteemed” author, after all! (If only we were all that busy! Just kidding . . . :-))

So, no pressure (really!), but when you do get two minutes—two seconds even—I’ve done some more work on my novel and would love your input. I’ve attached a revision.

Lastly, believe it or not, I ended up writing a draft of the clowns story! The working title is “City Clown, Country Clown.” Nice, eh? Your idea was just too tempting; I couldn’t resist. But maybe we should collaborate! We could just e-mail revisions back and forth. Actually, if you want, why don’t you simply track or note any changes you make to the attached file, then I can accept (or not!) each change when you send the story back to me. Easy enough, yes?

So, until next time, my friend! By the by, I really do love Will o’ the Wisp and can see why you’d make it your regular hangout. (I may have to do the same!) Let me know when you want to meet up there again. Obviously, we’ll have to be extra vigilant walking through any and all doorways! :-)

Best of the best,

Tim

PS—FYI, Paul, I Googled you again when I realized I don’t know where you live. Your alma mater popped up in one of the search results, so I was able to hunt down your address on your college website (which seemed none too secure, I have to say!). Anyway, if I happen to find myself in your “nabe,” I’ll swing by. Maybe tomorrow afternoon? Let me know if that works for you!

     
David Lott is a writer and musician who grew up in Staunton, Virginia, in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley. These days, he lives with his family in coastal Connecticut, where he is at work on Back in Brookford, a collection of linked stories. Follow him on Twitter at @davidlottauthor.