Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A Writer's Musings by Rita Lakin

Rita Lakin spent twenty-five years in Television as a writer on numerous series, movies, miniseries, created a number of dramatic series, finally becoming producer/show runner on her own shows. She was a pioneer of female Hollywood writers. She worked on shows such as Dr. Kildare, Peyton Place, The Mod Squad, and Dynasty. She also created her own shows: The Rookies, Flamingo Road and Nightingales. In addition, she also wrote many Movies of the Week and mini-series such as Death takes A Holiday, Women In Chains, Strong Medicine, and Voices of the Heart. Rita Lakin is now writing comedy mystery novels featuring Gladdy Gold, Florida's oldest Private Eye and her quirky geriatric partners in crime-solving. Rita won Left Coast Crime's LEFTY AWARD for most humorous mystery for Getting Old is Murder. Her Memoir The Only Woman in the Room is a heartfelt remembrance in which Rita Lakin exposes us to a long-forgotten time when women were not considered worthy or welcome at the creative table.


What does a writer often do when not writing? Avoid work, that’s what, and I am master of this fine art of diversion. Why would any writer find ways in order not to do this thing we love?

Perversity, that’s why.

Definition: Amusement. Deflection. Departure. Detour, Digression. Distraction. Entertainment. Game. Hobby. Levity. Merriment. Recreation. Red Herring. Relaxation. Sport.

Amusement. See Entertainment page local newspaper. Choose something. Go.
Deflection. The printer is out of ink, must rush out to the store and buy.
Departure. A friend calls. Wanna go to lunch? Out the door in 20 seconds.
Detour. The fridge is on my path to my office. Ice cream cries out to me.
Digression. So many emails to answer.
Distraction. The brown pelicans are gliding past my window in my bird sanctuary view.
Entertainment. Much TV. Any Masterpiece Theater. Antique Roadshow. Lately Outlander. Could watch Breaking Bad again. Love movies, too.
Game. Crossword puzzles. Yahtzee.
Hobby. Reading, of course. I must finish that mystery. Only five more pages to go.
Levity. Hanging out with other writers, laughing at not being at the computer.
Merriment. Telling old age jokes. (Seventy year old Sadie walks into the rec room carrying a large purse. She faces the old men playing cards. “I’ll have sex with the guy who can guess what’s in my purse.” Al yells, “An elephant.” Sadie says, “Close enough.”) Couldn’t resist.
Red Herring. Quickly scribble some notes, pretending they will go into The Next Book.
Relaxation. Ah, a nap and then, of course, I’ll get to work.
Sport. Sport? Are they kidding? Me? No way. Oh, they must mean watch a sport. The San Francisco Giants play 162 games a year. Stop writing and watch. Only takes up three hours a day. Each game.

Naturally words enchant writers. They roll lovingly off the tongue. Inkling. Defined as “a slight knowledge of a hint, a clue, a hunch, a glimmering, an indication...”

As a child, early words captivated me. I had an inkling. When I learned to read, I had to read everything. Anything. Cereal boxes as I breakfasted. Clothing labels. My parents’ newspapers – upside down as they read. When I tried on my own, at age five, I actually set our kitchen on fire. Mama was next door chatting with a neighbor. I turned a large page with my chubby little hands, and knocked over a lit candle. I screeched. Mama came running back. She found me curled up in the bathtub, the only safe place I could think of.

And speaking of plumbing;
It was in fourth grade when I had my epiphany. Elementary school. A busted pipe in an old building. So we little children were lead by teacher into the library, informed that our classroom was flooded out. We were to take seats around those scuffed and much-used tables. “I’m afraid this will be our new home for months,” she said.

Groans were heard. Stuck here?

Groans? Were they crazy? Didn’t they realize we now had a room full of books for us to enjoy? From eight am to three pm every day, all day. Nothing to do but read. How wonderful.

And I read and read and my notebook started filling with little stories I made up, inspired by what I read. So, I must have had an inkling of what career I would choose.

But wait a minute – I once had an inkling I might want to be a belly dancer. A clue. A hint. An indication. I even took a few lessons. It was just as well that I was awful at it.

As a writer I have always worked in the same room of my home and no matter which house or apartment I’ve lived in, (about 10 or so over the years) there was one deal breaker. My office had to be located next to the kitchen. For obvious reasons. Need I spell them out? OK, I will. F.O.O.D.

When writer’s block might strike me (rarely) or boredom (seldom) or when I just needed a change of pace and place, off I’d go to my beloved kitchen. Open the fridge and dive right in.

Over the years I have written in bars. (Must be part of a restaurant) Usually off hours with a bartender keeping pests away who will always ask: 1.What are you writing? (a script) 2. Where do you get your ideas? (from out of my head or, from God, when feeling feisty) 3. I could write that crap better than what’s on TV. (Get lost!!!! Or stronger.)

Another favorite place were bowling alleys. The wild cadence of the bouncing balls flying down the alleys reminded me of an angry ocean at high tide. Very soothing. Naturally I sat near the coffee shop.

But my all time favorite was the year I spent in a small neighborhood boutique restaurant. The owner, a gourmet chef, saw me as an “artiste” and offered me a table in the rear, with a socket for my computer.

I arrived eight am sharp, had my incredible breakfast, different every day. (Spinach Benedict, yum.) Then got to work. Of course I was still there at lunch. (My favorite; croissant sandwiches filled with brie cheese with a bisque soup to die for)

The customer and street noise level was high. The TV blasted. The phone rang off the proverbial hook. The kitchen shouted out when orders were ready. The smells, divine. I loved it all.

I heard nothing but the sound of my muse whispering in my ear, telling me just what to write. (Or was it my mother nagging from her great white condo in the sky?)

I wrote an entire novel there and gained five pounds, but it was worth it.

Enough musing. Back to work.


Bette Golden Lamb said...

That's my Rita!!

Bette Golden Lamb said...

That's my Rita!

Priscilla said...

Love this, Rita! My only problem is this: why have your office NEXT to the kitchen? I work IN my kitchen. But then I've seen you, and you've seen me. Having a work place a little further away has merit....

Ellen Kirschman said...

Wonderful. I read it aloud to my husband.

ana manwaring said...

What a delightful post! I always keep a refrigerator in my office. F.O.O.D. Can't work without it!

Jackie Houchin said...

Love this post - and I would feel just the same if a plumbing problem confined me to a library for months! And the food..... afraid I couldn't concentrate on murder while eating a brie croissant!