Was it Thomas Wolfe who said you can’t go home again? I think so. Not sure why he said it. For me it was easy. I jumped in my car and drove two hours east to Dayton, Ohio. I wasn’t trying to prove him wrong or anything. I was trying to find the original want ad Starbucks had placed in the Dayton Daily News. The want-ad I had responded to which set off a series of events that culminated in me getting a job with Starbucks in Chicago in the fall of 1990.
Around this time last year I was committed to the editing of the “novelized” version of Tripio. I can step back and evaluate Tripio, as it has now become, in three versions : The memoir version, the novelized version, and the edited, converted to past-tense version. As I am currently searching for an editor for Back outta the World, I thought it was a good time to revisit this post. I will only say for now that I feel very fortunate to have worked with the editor I did on Tripio. This wise man suggested a more catchy “hook” for the opening of Tripio. I could see his reasoning right away. Tripio opens deliberately and slowly as Jay is at his writing desk in his apartment, “shirtless and smelling a bit ripe”. Besides writing a little, all he bothered to do was take out the trash. Riveting stuff, eh? I did see my editor’s reasoning but my first reaction was “Where is the patience, people?”
But in and among those thoughts I knew what I had to make the opening more attention getting. The editor suggested I find a way to hook the reader. I knew where to find the hook I needed. I tried the local bait and tackle shop. Ha, ha. No luck. But I knew my hook was going to be that original want ad. At first I combed the couple journals I had kept from 1990. No luck there. I remembered that the ad included the phrase “must love coffee” so I tried searching the internet using that phase. No luck again. With the hook analogy in mind, I moved the boat to a different spot in the water. I took a trip to the main library in downtown Indy for help. However,their archives for the Dayton Daily News did not go back far enough. I did find an old ad for Starbucks as it opened in the Los Angeles market. Close, but that wasn’t want I wanted. Not what I, at this point, had to have.
At the Indy library I was given contact info for the archivist at the Dayton Daily News. Moving the boat yet again, I called him. He suggested I try to search the microfilm in person. I have family who live in Dayton and I could arrange that easily. I motored off. Drove, actually.
The visit with my family went well. The search for the want ad did not. I again proved Wolfe wrong and went from old home to current home, this time heading west two hours.
During that drive, with my brain and five senses occupied, my mind took control. It occurred to me that in the summer of 1990 I was thinking of moving from Dayton to Chicago. The Starbucks want ad would have been in the Chicago Tribune! As soon as I docked at home I jumped on the computer and subscribed to a month of the Chicago Tribune archives. Within two minutes I had found the original ad. Success. After switching bait several times, I had hooked my hook.
May I help who’s next?