When I came back from Texas in 1983, I was so lost and demoralized, and once again found myself on Sunset Boulevard. That day I’d driven up from my parents’ house where they'd retired in South Orange County.
I had the idea all I had to do was walk into a literary agency office, tell them, "I used to write for NASA Public Affairs," show them my portfolio of Space News Roundups from LBJ Space Center in Houston. Say, “I used to edit these, and 25 thousand people received them in their inbox every other Friday.” (Don't know what i planned to say if they ask me why I left NASA, as always I was going faster than the speed of life, did not stop to look at that problem.)
Now that I was an out of work journalist in L.A, I had to get get an agent, I figured. So I got the address of an agency in about the 9200 block of Sunset, past Doheny, where it curves away from the Strip and starts into Beverly Hills.
I’d been in Texas since about 1970. But still this street was home, not the whole city of L.A., not the east side suburbs where I grew up, but Sunset Boulevard. Last time I’d been a resident of Hollywood was in 1969.
Now I entered this glass slick building with no one stopping me in 1983 in the lobby, even though it was a Beverly Hills office building with all kinds of movie industry businesses inside, probably even celebrities. I just walked in and pushed the elevator button, went up a few flights, and walked into the office of Well Known Literary Agency. They had a phone listing with their address in the Yellow Pages that I’d read in my parents’ kitchen.
I said, "I'm here, I want to get a job writing for television or films, so I need an agent," in my elongated A's of L.A. with acquired Texan twang.
The receptionist stopped short, she was a city girl laughing at this Texas newcomer, even though L.A. is my hometown. She gave a grin meant for someone not me, and said, "No agent will talk to you unless you show up with a large body of work."
I said, A large body of work? But I have these Space News Roundups full of stories I wrote.
She shook her head. Doesn't matter.
What's a body of work, I asked. She said:
Like fifteen, twenty, completed full length feature film scripts, not just one novel but several novels you've gotten published.
Oh, I said.
I left the office, crossed the street, and sat on a bench, just sat, looking at the sleek office building I'd just left. Just sat there looking at it.
Five years later I left L.A. with newborn Lizzie and moved to Humboldt County, convinced that a baby would keep me at home, plus moving to the country, I’d finally sit down and write that body of work.
Ended up getting a job and entering the frenzy chaos and exhaustion of life as a single mother.
In 1993 in Eureka I had this bizarre experience as my daughter turned age five. Right then and there I remembered what happened to me at the hands of Father Thomas Barry Horne of Bartlett Illinois when I was five years old myself. It all became clear and vivid as I looked at my daughter as I was hiding her from the front windows.
And it came clear in my head because I hadn't been in the bars in two years.
I confirmed what happened at the hands of Father Horne over the phone with family members. Then entered the world of hundreds of thousands of crime victims of pedophile priests all over the world, and all that has led to where I am today.
To this day, when I look at my daughter, I see myself at her age. It’s hard right now that she’s age 22, as I did my worst… sexual confusion… acting out around that age. I want to move away from my daughter so I don't have to see those horrible years of my life every time I look at her.
All those greasy body fluid filled nights...
In 2007 I finally figured out how to start a blog and created one about pedophile priests, the crime victims, and the perpetrators. I found hundreds of stories, maybe thousands of stories, and started writing them.
The other day I realized that now, without setting out to accomplish it, I have a large body of work to show to an agent.
Wonder if that one literary agency is still in that building on Sunset Boulevard. Maybe I should look them up… wonder if I could get in the door in 2010.
Should just go sit on that bench and look at the building again.
-kay ebeling, today