Diary of a Dog Walker (Part One)
Animals are wonderful companions for us humans. Well, some animals. Dogs, cats, birds, turtles, fish, rabbits, even gerbils. And snakes. I recently pet-sitted a python. I didn’t have to feed it, since it fasts during the winter. I wouldn’t do that, anyway. Too sensitive and empathetic. It was bad enough I had to feed the mice that will be its Spring meal.
Here in Costa Rica, I’m probably dodging snakes, spiders and other less-than-friendly species in the jungle and swamps surrounding our relatively luxurious compound. Most likely I’m sequestered inside my air-conditioned room, writing or ruminating. The only exotic body of water I plan to wade through is my bathtub.
And I’ll check it for bugs first.
I will report more accurately on my trip when I return, in a series of posts. Right now I’m speculating on something that is taking me far outside my comfort zone. I’m doing it not only for the personal growth and the professional bona fides, but for the creative stimulation.
That won’t include hikes through our carnivore-infested environs. I’d rather appreciate the flora and fauna from the safety of my civilized confines. I don’t write adventure novels, after all. At least not the physical kind. My stuff is more about explorations of the inner wilderness. And I can do that from home.
After all, Tarzan and John Carter creator Edgar Rice Burroughs never actually set foot in Africa, much less on Mars. Research has its borders, too.
Still, it’s always good to stretch one’s own self-imposed boundaries. At least that’s what I’m told, and what I then tell others. Sounds good, anyway. I will let you know.
Frankly, I’d rather be walking dogs around Lake Washington. I’m looking forward to resuming that activity when I return. It’s been a great source of peace at a tumultuous time in my professional life. In fact, it’s the only steady gig I could score since besides writing, I’m otherwise unemployable, I’ve discovered.
Before I landed a long time (twelve year) career as a professional film programmer and publicist back in the Bay Area, I survived via a series of odd (some very odd) jobs. Most writers do. It’s not as romantic as some movies make it. It’s downright depressing, in fact. But while you’re chasing your dreams toward an uncertain and un-promised destiny, you will need to eat and pay bills, with a solid roof over your head.
My career as a film programmer was full time, and I basically set aside my aspirations as a fiction to concentrate on developing my public persona as “Will the Thrill,” hosting a cult movie cabaret called “Thrillville,” along with my lovely assistant and now life partner, Monica Cortes, AKA “The Tiki Goddess.”
It sure beat all the other occupations I’d suffered, from bussing and waiting tables to washing dishes to setting up for banquets to working as a video store/bookstore/hotel/retail store clerk to delivering blood and various bodily fluids to local hospitals to…well, you get the picture.
When the theaters I worked for suddenly and sadly folded in 2009, I was devastated on several levels. Feeling lost in the world again, I gradually returned to my first and true love, writing. Not just fiction, but freelance articles, something I never stopped during, even during my reign as “The Thrill,” mostly writing about cult cinema and lounge music and the “tiki” lifestyle.
This is how I developed my “brand name.” And I’ve now reapplied and reinvented “Thrillville” as a platform for my pulp fiction.
Besides freelancing, I once again scrounged around for part time gigs, so I could piece together an income, now that I no longer had a single source of cash.
I worked as a doorman, publicist, music booker and movie host for a popular local venue, and my favorite hangout, Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge, in Alameda, CA.
Then one amazing day in April of 2012, actor Christian Slater, who had owned the option on my first published novel Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me (Wild Card Press, 1995) since he discovered it in a L.A. bookstore way back in 2001, finally contacted me directly. He wanted to fly me out to Miami to do some location scouting, then contract me to rewrite his own adapted screenplay of the novel, changing the setting from the Bay Area to South Florida, where he resided at the time.
Right after that, I landed a full time freelance writing gig. (Yes, it’s possible, if you stick to it.) For the first time in my life, I was making a living in my chosen profession, with the long-delayed movie deal finally reaching fruition. My future as a writer never seemed brighter.
My ship had finally sailed into port – and this time, it wasn’t going to back out without me, leaving me stranded on the desolate shore of my own life’s dream. No more barely getting by with low paying, morale killing odd jobs.
Or so I thought.
Next: Every Dog Has His Day…
PHOTO: WILL VIHARO
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New Orleans, LA