Take two: Wouldn’t it be great if the production crew behind the television show, Sleepy Hollow, decided they wanted to go in another new direction ASAP so they contacted me, asking for my advice? (It would certainly be great as far as I’m concerned.) In this scenario, the production team has noticed the latest ratings and realized they need to do something drastic.
Discovering that Hallmark’s sweet romance movies are building an audience, the SH producers decide to tinker with Ichabod Crane’s reason for being. Instead of making the character a champion against supernatural evil, they want him to be a romance writer. In the upcoming season, Ichabod’s driving force, his most urgent crisis, will be his need to get a new novel out in a month’s time.
The idea is either genius or blindly stupid, but that’s Hollywood for you. Since Ichabod is now a writer, the showrunners look for a romance author who is attempting to complete a novel in a short amount of time. In between power lunches, they read all about my 30-day write-a-book challenge and realize I’m the go-to girl of their dreams. And, in my fantasy, they buy my plane ticket, fly me out to the West Coast, arrange for me to meet the cast, and ask me to spend some time in the writers’ room.
Afterwards, I meet with the show’s producers. If the show is to be saved, season five needs a little verisimilitude. They ask me how to make Ichabod Crane/Romance Writer ring “true to life”, and satisfy their viewers.
And, then, the following conversation begins:
“Thirty days, thirty chapters, a done and finished story, that’s what you promised your readers, right?” the Big Wig show runner asked.
“That’s what I promised them in theory,” I said. “A project like that is difficult but it can be done, absolutely…unless things go astray. Horribly astray.”
“Horribly astray?” Immediately, B.W. was intrigued. “You hear her, Lance? This is why we brought Anne in. While none of us understand why she had to spend all morning in the steam room with our star, Tom Mison – ”
“It’s part of the creative process,” I interrupted. “Also, don’t tell Glynn.”
“It’s worth it for this, the true scoop behind the challenges of a writer’s life. Start from the top, Anne, we want to know what happens when things go astray. Better yet, pitch it like a story, something we can use for the first few episodes of Five. Use Ichabod’s name, make him the writer, so we can envision it on the show.”
“You want a pitch, you got it,” I agreed. “The show opens, Ichabod is working on his novel. He’s never written before, but he’s a natural, all the publishers want him. Um, his book.”
B.W. nodded. “That happens all the time, right? Publishers fighting over a brand new author who’s never written anything?”
“You’ve done your research,” I said. “But Ichabod’s big dollar contract has a catch. There’s a thirty day deadline and he’s never felt this kind of pressure before. Not even when Abbie disappeared. Worse, he’s already spent the million dollar advance on digging up Alexander Hamilton’s corpse.”
“He dug up the corpse?” Lance asked. “To fight evil?”
“Sure, if you want,” I agreed. “Tom – I mean, Ichabod is sitting at the word processor, covered in sweat, his shirt open and his chest fully exposed. His powerful arms are tense as he types.”
Lance wrote my words down on a yellow sticky.
I wondered if the producers would let me be on the set during filming. “He didn’t know that writing a book would be so hard. The first couple of days, Ichabod’s hitting his word count, following the outline precisely, but then the story becomes something more than a simple project. It grabs him. Chapter after chapter, the page count starts increasing. The novel is taking longer to write than he ever expected.”
“Even with his deadline, he can’t help himself,” B.W. said. “Ichabod’s an artist. As a wordsmith, he has to follow his heart.”
“You understand!” I exclaimed. “By the end of the first week, he hasn’t finished seven chapters. He’s only done four.”
“That’s trouble,” Lance chimed in.
“The second week, things don’t go any better. Ichabod tries to get up to speed, he wants his novel out within the month, but it just isn’t working. If he wants to be true to the story, he has to do the research, he has to get things right. It all takes time.”
“More trouble,” Lance chimed in.
“Then he gets an invitation to try out for a local choir, so he decides, what the hell, why not?”
“A choir?” B.W. asked. “What about the contract's deadline?”
“Ichabod knows the best writers live a full life. He attends one of the choir’s practices. It’s more tiring than he expected to spend four hours standing in one spot, but the women are so nice, the opportunity to sing is so enjoyable, he goes back a second time. That second night, some of the women are coughing, turns out there’s this miserable flu racing through the community, but he’s been so busy with his book, he didn’t know.”
“Four hours is a lot of standing,” B.W. said, “a lot of singing. Can Tom sing?”
“I’ve never heard him sing,” Lance added. “We could dub him.”
I’m on a roll, so I continued. “Wouldn’t you know, Ichabod gets the flu. He feels miserable, can’t seem to think clearly. The novel gets as far as chapter thirteen when the fever, headache, and coughing get to be too much. Recently sick, he’s sick again. He sets his pages aside, knowing he’ll get back to the book as soon as he feels better.”
The Big Wig shook his head. “Now he has the flu? Viewers don’t like it when the star is sick. I think maybe – ”
“And then,” I said, “the Headless Horseman shows up at the D.C. Barnes & Noble. He’s there to to do a book signing for his latest sci-fi fantasy. Fever or not, Ichabod knows he has to force himself to get writing again. He’s afraid the Headless Horseman will get on the bestseller list before he does.”
B.W. and Lance looked at one another. B.W. smiled. “Now you’re talking.”
…and that’s all I’ve got for today. Hope you’re doing well. As far as me?
I’m on chapter thirteen of the new book.