After completing the hotel check-in process
, the Diggs have settled into their room and are finally enjoying the American tradition of "vacationing."
Leaving them to that, I'd like to devote today's post to thanking Powell's Books for allowing me this wonderful opportunity. Seriously. Before I was ever a writer, I was a reader. And for anyone addicted to books, a great bookstore is the sexiest place on earth. And Powell's is the bookstore. Only this past summer did I have my first opportunity to visit Portland and hence, immediately, Powell's. I have never seen so many people buying so many books. Armloads of books. Readers. The best people in the world. Nonreaders will never know how awesome and exciting and sleek it always is to walk into a great bookstore and do some damn book shopping.
Twelve years before Heads in Beds, my memoir of the hotel business, was even a concept, I was already dedicated to writing. It was like a disease for me, and it did have side effects. Working 10 years straight in low-level hotel jobs with little advancement was one of those side effects. In order to keep motivated and writing, I created a system to keep me focused. Charts. I kept crazy charts, timing each minute I worked of each day and collecting the time into weekly and monthly statistics. Why did that work for me? Because long before I was good at writing, I still considered it a job. But I also had the hotel job. And I was putting 40 to 50 hours a week into that so... where did I stand with regards to my writing career? What kind of time was I pulling there?
Please note my reasons for not working that Saturday in 2005: haircut, mental breakdown, phone in
toilet, hangover, and email from ex in inbox. They still seem like pretty solid reasons for taking a day off.
I taped up my weekly charts, covering the wall with them, and penned in start and stop times, and added up hours and word counts, holding myself accountable. I guess it was my military upbringing, but it worked well for me: seeing those hours documented on my wall provided a sense of accomplishment that I certainly wasn't getting from the writing itself — which was, as writing is prone to do, getting constantly rejected (I taped the rejections to my wall too). But putting those hours in made me better at the job of writing. Like going to the gym, I got stronger.
And then many years later, the side effect of the hotel work became, in a rather gaudy display of irony, my saving grace. Haha! Life's hilarious.
If I were a specific character from "The Diggs Go to Detroit," I'd be either Tim, the front-desk agent, or little Timmy, the future front-desk agent. Because when I was a child, a front-desk worker at a Disney hotel actually did give me his name tag. It read "Jacob" and I cherished it. Now I have so many of my own name tags. And, in my tenure as a desk agent, I ran into many, many little Jacobs on the other side of the desk. Did I give any of them my name tag? Pass it down like a curse/tradition?
I did not.
I even consider doing that to Timmy in the story reprehensible.
I am so grateful to you all for taking the time to read these entries. And, again, I would like to thank Powell's for being everything you are and doing everything you do.