I am back at the Eldorado having drinks with the woman who took me on a tour of Mission sandbags. She called the day before to say she had some research she wanted to share, but when she showed it to me (written in looping longhand on her grandmother’s surplus steno pads) it had nothing to do with anything we had talked about and everything to do with a novel she wanted to write about her friend’s year as a sex worker in Fort McMurray.
“I read your book The Pornographer’s Palm and I thought you handled the sex scenes nicely.”
“That would make a nice blurb for the re-issue,” I told her. But before I could correct her on the title, she was telling me about the Fort Mac fire.
“The brothel burned down. I always wanted to go there -- she offered to take me on a tour of it -- but now it’s gone and I need to visit a brothel before I can write about one.”
“I’m not sure that’s something you need to do. There are other ways to write about things you haven’t experienced directly.”
“Name one,” she said accusingly.
“Well, how about janitorial work. Cleaning offices at night.”
“I’ve done that,” she said.
“Ever thought to write about it?”
“No,” she flatly.
“Okay, so you need to visit a brothel. Or better yet, you could ask your friend to tell you about the one she worked at and take notes on your steno pad.”
“I don’t think you’re taking me seriously,” she said.
“I could say the same of you,” I said, adding that the basis of our acquaintance is sandbags, and it only achieved mutuality with Polanski. We never talked about our interest in writing.
“Let’s write something together!” she beamed.
It was then that I confessed I was recording our conversation, based on her granting me permission to record her the last time we spoke.
“So we’re writing a play!” she declared.
“In a manner of speaking, yes,” I said. “But we would edit it later, boil it down, maybe find a strand to develop further.”
“How do you find these strands?” she asked. “How do you know when you’ve found one?”