Wednesday, January 8, 2020

It’s Finished

On January 1, 1995, I went to my office in Harbor Springs, Michigan, where I was working at the time, and booted up my Apple IIc to start writing a novel about a character who had popped into my head when I was on vacation the month before on the island of Montserrat. The name of the character was Bobby Cramer, and the plot was simple: tell his story. Yesterday, January 7, 2020, at 3:00 p.m., I finished it, all 886 pages.

I have no plans to pursue publication; I never meant to. The satisfaction has come from telling his tale and watching him grow and make his way through life; through good times and bad, celebration and loss, growth and turmoil, and show that having hope as his greatest weakness is not a bad thing at all. That’s why I write.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Saturday, May 25, 2013

On This Date

In fiction, on Sunday, May 25, 1980, Richard Barlow met Bobby Cramer for the first time.  It was at the country club Memorial Day tea dance.

I’ll let you know what happens as soon as I finish writing the story.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Now You Know

One of the questions I get asked every so often is where the nickname “Mustang Bobby” came from.

An excerpt from my novel-in-progress Bobby Cramer answers the question.

It is May 17, 1980, graduation day for Bobby from Winchester Academy in North Andover, Massachusetts.  His parents are there, along with his friends Jill, Josh, and Garrett.

They got to the front of the dorm where Dr. Cramer had parked.  “Well, Bobby, we’re going to head back to the inn for a little nap, and then we’ve been invited to dinner with Don and Stephen, so you’re on your own tonight.  But I think Josh and Jill have something planned for you, isn’t that right?”

“Last night at Sully’s,” said Jill.  “Pizza with everything and it’s all on us.  Garrett, you’re coming, too,” she demanded, “even if you have to drive back from Wellesley Hills or wherever the hell it is you live.”

“So we’ll see you first thing in the morning,” his father said.  He turned to leave, and stopped.  “Oh, just a minute….  I knew I was forgetting something.”  He looked out over the parked cars and waved.  There was a rumble as an engine started, and then out of the row of parked cars came Mr. Odenkirk driving his red 1966 Mustang GT.  It was freshly waxed, the chrome was shining, and the top was down.  He pulled up in front of them, got out of the car, and gave the keys to Dr. Cramer.

“Congratulations,” his father said.

“What?” replied Bobby.

“It’s your Mustang, Bobby,” said his father, handing him the keys.

“Ha,” Jill laughed.  “That’s what I’m going to call you from now on: ‘Mustang Bobby.’  It’s perfect.”

“You mean…” Bobby stammered, “it’s mine?”

“All yours.  Mr. Odenkirk and I had a little chat last fall.  He loves the car, but he can’t drive it much.”

“And it should be back with its original owner,” interjected Mr. Odenkirk.  “My dad and I have just been taking care of it all these years until it could come back home.”

“Get in,” insisted Jill.  Bobby did, and Jill took several more pictures.  “I am so calling you ‘Mustang Bobby’ for the rest of your life.”

“All right,” his father said.  “I hope you weren’t counting on a Porsche or a BMW.”

“No, Dad, it’s….  Thank you.”  He hugged his parents again.

“Oh, as much as I’m sure you’d love to start out life with it on a road trip, I’ve arranged for a carrier to pick it up on Monday.  It should be back in Toledo by the end of the week.”

After they left, Jill said, “Okay, Sully’s at six.  Be there.”

“I will.”

“All right.  Yip yah, Mustang Bobby,” she called as she went to her car.

“You know that’s your name from now on, don’tcha?” said Garrett.

“Yeah,” said Bobby.  “I kinda like it.”

So now you know.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Quote of the Day

From the in-progress magnum opus Bobby Cramer, attorney Lewis Alton explains the facts of life to Bobby:

He didn’t ask if you were gay. He asked if you were homosexual. There’s a difference. Being gay means you like men. Being homosexual means you like men but you’re up to no good.

Quote of the Day

From the in-progress magnum opus Bobby Cramer, attorney Lewis Alton explains the facts of life to Bobby:

He didn’t ask if you were gay. He asked if you were homosexual. There’s a difference. Being gay means you like men. Being homosexual means you like men but you’re up to no good.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Monday, May 9, 2005

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Saturday, March 5, 2005

Monday, February 21, 2005

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Bobby Cramer Goes Blogging

I’ve created a blog for my writing called Bobby Cramer, and I’ve reprinted the Writing on Writing series over there. I may also post bits and pieces of the novel, but don’t look for it right away; I’m more wrapped up in writing the story itself than I am about writing about writing the story.

Stop by if you like.

Saturday, January 1, 2005

Ten Years In

On January 1, 1995, I went out to my office in Harbor Springs, Michigan – that’s where my computer was located – and began writing the first draft of what has become my current novel-in-progress, Bobby Cramer. I didn’t have a title for it then, and two years into it I started it all over again when I switched from the Apple IIc to the Gateway. I had no idea where I was going with it; some would say I still don’t, but I’m having a lot of fun, and last night when I stopped writing at 11:38 p.m., I was on page 784.

About five years ago I wrote the preface – the teaser, if you will. Here it is in its entirety.

The kitten is staring back at me. It looks startled, but it is unblinking, unmoving. Off in the distance I hear a series of high-pitched beeps. A soft female voice says, “Breathe.” I take a breath, the noise stops. I feel weak, my body heavy. I try to look around. Soft lighting, chemical smells, muffled sounds, people moving. The alarm sounds again and the voice repeats, “Breathe, Richard.” My throat is dry. I am very tired. Darkness moves in.

The light comes back slowly. My right hand is resting on my chest. A long metal cap like a thimble with a wire running from it encloses my index finger. I try to lift my arm, but it is too heavy. Once again I hear the beeping and I take a deep breath on my own.

My head is clearing. The kitten is a poster on the ceiling: Hang In There, Baby. I am in bed, the covers lightly tucked around me. My left leg throbs but I cannot move it.

“Are you awake?” says the voice. She is wearing a white coat, large glasses, and a shower cap. She smiles, adjusts something. “Where’s Bobby?” I whisper. She moves off. More darkness.

The next time I open my eyes she is at the foot of the bed. Someone who looks like Alan Alda in green scrubs and dark hair looks closely at my leg. “Need to loosen it a little.” A high whine, the smell of cut wood, the heaviness lessening. The noise stops. “Where’s Bobby?” I say.

The man looks at me. “You’re a very lucky man, Mr. Barlow.” He moves to my side. “Do you know where you are?”

“In a hospital, I guess.”

“Do you know which one?”

I try thinking, but nothing comes. For a moment I stare at him, then shake my head.

“You’re in Longmont United. Longmont, Colorado. Do you know how you got here?”

I shake my head again. Still nothing.

“Do you know the date?” says the woman.

“February something. Nineteen ninety-five.”

She puts a clear plastic tube into the needle in my arm.

“You’re still a little groggy,” says Alan Alda. “You’ve had surgery to reduce a fracture in your left ankle. I did the operation.”

“Thanks. Where’s Bobby?”

He pats my hand gently. “We’re going to keep you overnight for observation. Go back to sleep. We’ll talk later.” He looks at the nurse, she nods, and the kitten fades into the growing darkness. (Copyright 2005 by the author.)

That’s enough for now. Back to work.