Friday, December 16, 2011

The Adventures of Two Men Who . . .

Ralph resolved to write a story about the adventures of two men who travel across the country to patronize Nevada brothels, where such establishments are—ahem—legal. In early 1993, Ralph drafted an 18,000-word basic storyline. He submitted his draft along with Lightning at Dawn and Boys and Girls Together in June for copyright protection. Ostensibly to make the story realistic and to develop characters with fidelity, Ralph visited numerous legal brothels in Nevada as a “customer.”
I can hear cogs in your mind working. If you’re like most, you’re saying, “Never mind telling me about deducting traveling expenses for going to Vietnam to obtain motorcycle pictures for a picture book.” A more vital question is: could Ralph deduct those costs? Well, we’ll see.
Ralph wrote in his journal. Note that, to Ralph’s credit, he kept a non-financial contemporaneous record. He wrote about his personal experiences at these—excuse me—whorehouses. He chronicled which bordellos he visited, the dates and even, sometimes, the hours.
Ralph’s notes described prostitutes he met and the amounts of lucre he paid. For each journal entry, Ralph wrote about these visits, about what happens at cathouses (Like people don’t know?). For instance, Ralph described selecting his strumpets, the “house rules,” negotiating prices for a gal’s time, their discourse—yes, discourse, not some other course—and the ladies’ clothing. He included personal information on his courtesans, including age, physical characteristics, place of residence, religion, ethnicity, education, and names and ages of offspring.
Ralph’s journal indicates that, at some point during said encounters, he told the demimonde he was writing a book about Nevada’s bordellos. He wanted to use them as characters.
The journal shows that during 1993 Ralph spent about three days a month—except in February, May, and December—meeting prostitutes at brothels. Using materials so gathered, he produced Searchlight, Nevada.
Anxious to sell his work, Ralph consulted the 1993 Writer’s Market. There he read about Northwest Publishing, Inc. Northwest’s entry stated that it published hardcover, trade paperback, and mass market originals and reprints, between forty and fifty titles a year on seven to eight hundred queries and five hundred manuscripts a year. Some eighty-five percent of said manuscripts came from first-time authors and ninety-five percent came from unagented writers. Northwest said that it paid a ten to fifteen percent royalty on retail price, publishing books four months after acceptance of submitted manuscripts.