I left my icebreaker in San Francisco

28 Aug

Last weekend I went to San Francisco to visit one of my best friends and writing inspirations, Hal Katkov. (That’s his lovely cousin Elizabeth next to him, who has very toned arms.) It has taken me an entire week to recover from my trip, which is why this blog has been so lonely. Hal and his partner Ted were wonderful hosts!

Hal and I have led similar lives since meeting 100 years ago in grad school at Northwestern, when we were forced to sit next to each other all day, every day during an entire stifling Evanston summer. You really get to know the person seated to your left when the person seated to your right doesn’t speak to you and has terrible body odor (see “stifling Evanston summer,” above).

We both moved to New York and became advertising copywriters. Our friendship flourished, and Hal was there to set me up on blind dates, counsel me through relationships (“Don’t call him!”) and nurse me through breakups (usually assisted by chocolate and/or vodka). I didn’t know it at the time, but this was all fodder for my romantic comedies, because believe me, many of those dates were comic. Hal moved to California, I moved to Colorado, but our friendship remained vibrant.

When he wasn’t writing award-winning ads, Hal wrote screenplays and I tried my hand at it too—as a writer and movie lover, I couldn’t talk to Hal about his scripts and not want to write one myself. The difference is, I wrote one; he wrote many. He always had a new idea, and churned out script after script. I had no clue how someone made that happen (see previous post, glass half empty and half full).

Hal tired of the perpetually locked door in Hollywood and decided to turn his favorite scripts into novels, which I believe subconsciously compelled me to write a novel. Hal was like an icebreaker ship in the Arctic, clearing a path for my fiction career. “Thrown” started life as a 15-page treatment (outline) for a screenplay, only instead of writing a script, I wrote a book. So besides Hal being a great friend over the decades, an inspiration for writing just because he never made excuses—he just flat-out wrote—in a very concrete way he is responsible for me finding this new passion of mine.

I can’t thank him enough! I hope you have someone or something in your life that inspires you to discover and pursue a passion. It’s a thrill a minute.

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