Adam Reger | Freelance Writer

Pittsburgh-based freelance writer

Tag: Super Bowl

Free Box, Installment #1

Here is a new feature I’ve been meaning to roll out for some time now. Last spring I had the idea to generate tons of ideas for novels, stories, and films every day, with the intention of starting an “idea factory” wherein I’d then contract writers, via elance or Craig’s List, to flesh out those ideas.

For various reasons—chief among them a reluctance to spend my money this way and a writer’s proprietary feeling toward his ideas—my idea factory closed down. But since then I’ve revisited some of my ideas and realized they’re not at all bad, and that for the right person they might be helpful. I’ve also noticed that I have plenty of ideas for other things, in fields like business, that for various logistical reasons I am never going to put into action.

So I decided to create a space on this website where I can put these things out, free to anyone who wants them: a “free box,” like you’ve probably got at work, or in your apartment building, or like I used to find in my dorm buildings while at college.

No strings are attached to any of these ideas, although I’d like to ask that if you find something here that is useful to you, you let me know (and especially if it ends up turning into a finished product of some kind). And if you take one of my ideas and turn it into a multimillion-dollar feature film, it would certainly be appreciated if you threw some of the royalties my way.

Anyway, here it is, Free Box Installment #1:

-Hoboes. Period piece. Bank heist: hoboes versus railroad bull and small-town sheriff who shot lead hobo down years earlier. Comedic but tense (in the vein of O Brother Where Art Thou?). Fading of hobo era—new high-speed trains are making it more difficult to jump onto trains. Ragtag bunch of hoboes pulls off big heist.

Haymarket-style detective story. Bomb is thrown, anarchist is wrongly accused. Amid outrageous bias, one honest cop discovers the truth, has to navigate tense 1880s climate along the way.

-Prison break. Dad has to escape to see his son play in the Super Bowl. Twin plotlines of father and son.

-Man who can walk through walls. Dishonest man uses this for evil, then good.

Storage Wars-type guy—a locker buyer—finds an urban treasure map supposedly leading to a famed treasure long since thought to have gone missing. Maybe shot in reality show fashion, with other contestants becoming involved along the way.

-Man in need of money goes on a game show—like either Jeopardy! or Wheel of Fortune—and competes using a special system he worked out using hours and hours of tape on that show. (Invent a show to suit the plot; base it on that “Whammy” show guy. [I meant Michael Larson, who successfully “cheated” on Press Your Luck in the 1970s.] He has to not only compete against other contestants but has to outsmart producers who know something is up. (Would need to differentiate it a bit more from Slumdog Millionaire.)

Harlem Globetrotters versus Washington Generals story. Crushing anguish and effects on team of losing every night, discrepancy between good guys on-court and off. Bad News Bears-type story, with Generals rallying to win one (and then being booed vigorously). [I’d be remiss if I didn’t plug my own short story here, “The Night the Washington Generals Beat the Harlem Globetrotters,” in cream city review.]

-Zero energy moment is reached, when there’s no more oil or coal. People think they’re ready but they’re not. Documentary style, following human-power impresario, solar proponent, wind person, etc. OR: when the lights go out, terror over uncertainty, no internet (no electricity), a serial killer is stalking the city. [Note: I have never seen the TV show Revolution but this sounds somewhat similar from having watched the promos. I definitely wrote this idea down at the end of last May, so please, NBC, do not sue me.]

There you have it, the first installment of Free Box. Not the greatest ideas in the world, but what do you want? They’re free.

AWP Post-Mortem: What Was That?

This past weekend I went to the annual conference of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP, though obviously it would more accurately be “AWWP”) in Washington, DC. It was fun. I got to see some great writers read, among them Stephen Elliott, Nick Flynn, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Amy Hempel, and Gary Shtyengart. I got a good, large dose of Richard Bausch, who is as entertaining, wise, and funny in person as are his stories. (Actually, he’s way funnier than his stories, which rarely “work blue,” in contrast to the man.) And I dropped in on a couple panels preoccupied with my own preoccupation, making a living as a writer (while not giving up on my personal, creative work).

But as I made my way back to Pittsburgh, the dominant feeling was something like “So that was AWP.” Kind of a flat feeling, like “Why did I do that again?” My hope for the conference was that I’d come out of it hungry to write, inspired by what I’d seen and heard. And while that sort of happened, to a greater extent, it didn’t.

I’d been to AWP once before, three years ago when it was held in New York. But in some ways I considered this my first conference because in New York I slept on a friend’s air mattress up in Queens, and it seemed that my days divided neatly into AWP Time and Friend Time. AWP Time featured panels and perusing the tables at the Bookfair. Friend Time began with a subway ride north, and was centered more on bars and strip clubs, with not as much overlap between the two as you might expect. In the time between conferences, I’d come to understand that a lot of AWP’s value stemmed from networking, and that a lot of that was done outside of panels and the Bookfair, at off-site events and over drinks (though never, that I’ve heard, at off-site events hosted by strip clubs, or over watered-down strip-club drinks).

My first reaction to the “flat” feeling mentioned above was that the trip was a waste of money and time (during which I got zero writing done, it bears mentioning). I opined to my traveling companion that it would have been better to do a writer’s retreat kind of deal, where a part of each day was spent actually writing.

That’s probably true, but in the fullness of time—two days later—I think that such a reaction misunderstands AWP’s purpose. I have a friend from grad school whose AWP schedule was positively packed, and the reason is that he attended a few of those writer’s-retreat deals—Breadloaf, Sewanee—and met a lot of people there. AWP’s function seems more to refresh those connections.

And/or to solidify them. My roommate, Sal “Chugg-a-Lugg” Pane, knows a lot of literary people only by way of the internet. It was interesting to see him talking with people in person whom he’s “known” for some time, but never actually met. (These observations also served to bring home the fact that a lot of literary people are quite awkward in person.)

These are incomplete thoughts, but when an experience feels flat or vaguely unsatisfying, it’s usually useful to think about why that is, and whether or not you’re “doing it” wrong. (Heh, heh.) I didn’t do AWP wrong, exactly, but it was less than it could have been. The way to do it, it seems to me, is to use AWP as a meeting space for old friends, understanding that it’s not going to help your writing transcend previous limitations, but, if done correctly, it might help you renew your commitment to the writing life.

Seemingly Unrelated Addendum: The writer Pam Parker (whose blog, Finding Meaning with Words, is well worth your time), is a Green Bay Packers fan and jokingly suggested some kind of wager between the two of us (as the Packers just played the Pittsburgh Steelers, my local team, in Super Bowl XLV). Nothing came of it, but in the spirit of friendly sports-wagering between writers, I thought I should acknowledge this “rivalry” and give Pam a small shout-out for having backed the winning team. Congratulations to the Packers, who also mowed down my real team, the Philadelphia Eagles, en route to becoming champs.

(This addendum is related, in case you are wondering (and still reading), because the Super Bowl was the culmination of my long, eventful weekend—i.e., I was home for maybe 90 minutes before kickoff—and thus the conference and the game are tightly linked in my mind.)