WORMS 2 (continued from yesterday)
So, it turns out that my computer didn’t have a worm but a virus. In any case, it cost me $145 to get back on the internet.
The night before last, I finally received another phone call from the crazy Ukrainian, as I have now come to call this woman who wanted me to “collaborate” with her. Collaborate means to work together. At least it does in the English language.
After my silly meetings with this woman I returned to the country. I called my friend, a successful Manhattan architect, who had brought her into my life. I was trying to suss out whether there was any chance of really getting paid. He told me to get some money up front, which is always good advice.
I called her and told her that I had a pretty good idea for a story and that I would write it. I wanted $2500 – ten percent – as a down payment when I finished the story. She could come out to the country once I had a strong first draft and we could work on it together for a day. She became very haughty, said she couldn’t be bothered coming to the country and hung up. I shrugged it off.
Curious as to what kind of person I had been dealing with, I checked out something she told me about her “research.” She claimed to have visited the European city where the novella was set and to have stayed in a hotel named after the author. It turns out no such hotel exists, in that city or anywhere else, according to an exhaustive Google search in two languages. I now believe the woman is a compulsive liar. She had claimed to stay in a hotel that didn’t exist; and she had met with me under false pretenses – claiming to have written a non-existent screenplay. The only true thing she said was that the book was worth reading.
I began to write a story. It took quite a different turn than the crazy Ukrainian’s idea. The fact that it took any turns at all was quite an advance over her idea. It took me two weeks of writing and rewriting every day. This is not a long time to write a short story.
When it was done I sent it to my literary agent and registered it with the guild. Then I called the crazy Ukrainian and left her a message. She didn’t return my call, so over the next week or ten days, I tried half a dozen more times. She is a friend of a friend and I felt some misplaced obligation.
The night before last, I received a message from her on Face Book, saying she was off to Europe and she would write a story to try and interest investors. I wrote back saying I’d already written a story, quite different from her idea.
My cell phone rang immediately. She launched into an insane screaming tirade -- calling me a thief; saying I had no right to write a story; claiming that she owned the rights to the book. When she let me get a word in edge-wise, I tried to explain that I only did what I said I was going to do; that what I had written was quite different from what she had in mind, but that I felt it was quite good, and at least it had a beginning, middle and end.
She kept screaming. The she threatened me with a lawyer. I told her to have her lawyer contact me and disconnected. There were several more barely coherent, threatening Face Book emails that night.
I went to bed upset and awoke to a virus that kept me off line. And so, here it stands.
From now on I am implementing a strict policy. This is my career firewall: If you are not in show business or publishing already, and you want to meet with me about a project, you must come up with $25,000 good faith money in advance of the meeting. No exceptions.
So much for worms.